Thursday, 25 May 2006

Just As Autumn Edges Out, Winter Creeps In

Autumn is just about at an end now. Winter is creeping in - we had a bit of a frost here this morning. I wore two pairs of socks and inserted woolly liners into my boots. This photo is what we see out our windows - taken about six weeks ago, the colours are even deeper now, and some trees are just about bare.

Hey! It's Poetry Thursday today !

The poem below is about autumn at our place. It was written about a year ago.


inside outside

Stumbling, a late fly
cracks its head
on glass. It wants to go back
outside into a world of orange
where the silver birches
have turned
and an immobile wind-machine
does not, the toy farmer bent
and crazy to crank up
the wooden tractor
as becalmed as the two cats
lying stretched-out inside
on sun-slabs, underbellies exposed
as if they still trust
summer to return
and every so often
one of them purring suddenly,
like a lost aeroplane.


And below you'll find a photo of the wind mobile mentioned in the poem - we call the hapless farmer, destined to never crank up the tractor, Trev (short for Trevor ... a common male name for my generation, and a bit of a joke-name for New Zealand farmers.)

Maybe the wind machine is a bit cheesy, a bit novelty-folk-art-ish, but I like it. I like the way it quietly rumbles in the wind and the way Trev tries so hard to start up the tractor, a grim tilt to his mouth. But I like it most of all because it reminds me of my childhood on the farm.

Saturday, 20 May 2006


Today I went for a walk along the harbour. It was hard to drag myself away from the fire and my book, but I knew that I'd be glad I did.
The photo I've posted was one I took not long ago, but when conditions were calmer than today. Today there weren't any reflections.
However the harbour looked wonderfully silver in the dying afternoon-light and the water ruffled and scrunched by a nippy breeze.
I was warmly wrapped in gloves, woollen hat, scarf and coat.
I saw elegant gulls with lolloping wings and the more angular, quicker terns, both out diving for food in the water.
I saw a kayak, a canoe and a wind-surfer's bright, orange-and-pink sail.
When there was a lull in passing traffic, I could hear my own footsteps and the bottom of my jeans making rhythmic flapping sounds. I noticed there are no longer any grasshoppers creaking in the roadside plantings. The last of them have disappeared along with the warm nights.
In some of the gardens of the houses I passed nearer to home, pink roses were still gamely budding. Summer's sweet peas, though, were just brown stalks with rotting, broken backs. Drooping corpses slung over fences.
However, the rhodendrons are very much alive and kicking - shamelessly flaunting shiny, conical tips, like green rockets, all ready to blast off in September.
Ah, but September seems a long, long way away. Before then we have winter in which to retreat and reflect and gather our resources.
Home now to ABM's offer to 'do tea' and the smell of tuna with pasta and cheese cooking while I write this and think ahead to an evening in by the fire with wine, TV or a book - and smug in the knowledge that I went for my walk and loosened my bones and stretched my short legs and treated myself to the harbour's beauty once again.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

earliest memory

earliest memory

My mother pushes the pram through
a forest of broom
to more solid, roadside shingle.

Had she taken a shortcut
and got us lost? Remembering back
yields my only clues: how tall

my mother was, how breathless
with laughter and how soft
the broom, as soft as the empty fingers

of gloves, the flowers as yellow
as near suns, their perfume as elusive
as the smell of moths.

The photo is of my mother when she was young - and as another poem of mine about her says, 'unencumbered'. It was taken when she had bright, wavy, red hair.
In a span of ten years, she had seven children - three boys and four girls. I was her first and the reason she had to get married! However, it was a happy marriage, until my father died suddenly when I was fifteen.
This left her a thirty-eight year old widow.
She knew none of this was ahead of her when this photo was taken of her down at the beach on a sunny day and in her best dress.
My brave, strong and resilient mother turns 76 this year. Her red hair has been replaced with a head of snowy white hair; a little thin on the top (which her daughters are a little nervous about ... inherited traits?) She is as full of energy and fun as ever.
We love you Mum!

Monday, 15 May 2006

I wanna ...

I am tired.

A lot of bloggers seem to be tired right now and taking breaks.

I am thinking of taking a break from blogging too, but may just suffice with very short blogs for a while.

Haiku blogs.

Some bloggers I read do little, wee blogs - like one-liners. I might try that.

If I had a digital camera I could do the photo with caption blog. That has always appealed.

I want to knit a jersey - so I might swap blogging for knitting for a few weeks.

I want to write some short stories. Instead of blogging, I might just shut myself away in my writing room and see what stories I come up with - or out with!

I'd like to do more walking - but these days it seems to be dark and cold whenever I think of it.

Today was very cold. A reminder of impending winter - the cold - the kind that kills off good intentions - such as walks and writing - or anything away from the fire and TV.

I want to read too - I have a friend's poetry manuscript to read and a Montessori textbook. I want to read some detective novels and some more short story collections.

I received some beautiful flowers from my daughter for Mother's Day. Lemon carnations and yellow lilies. They sit all golden and warm against the pale green curtains.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

The Locals Wear Gumboots

This is a photo I took when we were on Stewart Island three weeks ago now. It shows the native New Zealand bush most of the island is covered with.

Stewart Island is at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand (looking at a map of New Zealand, the South Island is the one that looks like a frock and Stewart Island the shape of a sleeping cat.)

This is my third visit to Stewart Island, and each time I've arrived, I've sensed what it really means to 'set foot'. As soon as they feel the ground beneath them, my feet start tingling.

I love its silence and scent. Water and trees. I love the play of calm, white pearly light on the ocean.

Walking round Halfmoon Bay, the bay with the town of Oban and where the ferries dock, we saw overhead, a flock of kakriki (a native parrot with bright emerald-green feathers and red faces.) We could hear their rough, loud caws as they flew to a roost in some trees. We dropped into a small cafe for a coffee and got talking to the American owner. She makes paua shell necklaces and bracelets, which were all pinned up on the wall. She said she can't keep up with the orders - especially in the summer when visitor numbers are higher.

The island is full of bays and forest walks. It was ABM's first visit, and we had one full day only to enjoy a small part of all there is to explore there. But we thoroughly enjoyed our day walking around and savouring the sights and sounds of forest and ocean views. We are rather smitten by the place.

To live there would be to live in a place that feels protected by the sea and trees. It has the intimate feeling of an island; that comforting, included feeling of of being restricted to one small space. But not too small. There are very large areas of bush emptied of any buildings or signs of humans, where one could get away from it all well and truly. It is a hilly island and most of it is coverd by native forest. As well, here are very many, idyllic little bays to discover and explore.

The island has a low-key, positive, communal feel to it. Locals wear gumboots to the one grocery store, and drive there in pick-up trucks with happily grinning dogs on the back. I'd go and live there in a flash.

One of the other people in the group we were with told me later she'd woken up at dawn and could hear kiwis. She described their call as determined - not pretty at all, but with an insistent, strident urgency. (Maybe that's a warning - living on an island might do that to you after a while.)

Stewart Island is special to me too because people I have descended from lived there. A bay is named after them and one of the islands the ferry passes on its way, is also named after an ancestor. This gives me a sense of coming home when I go to Stewart Island. I feel the place is already in my blood. It is a kind of homecoming. I will be back.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Time for a Poem

Once again it's time to post a poem. It's Poetry Thursday again. I have tried to plonk the pretty Poetry Thursday button as a link on my blog, but I don't think it's worked ... may have to call in the experts to help me.

Anyway. Here is this week's poem:

good girls

They’re good girls,
they do as they’re told
and listen to their mother because
she’s on her own and always looks worried,
her hair pulled back into an S-shaped ponytail.

As they sit on a seat and wait for the bus,
they swing their feet above the footpath’s black
asphalt. Their mother lights up. I see it all
through the window of ‘Chipmunks’
where my granddaughter

has her face painted. She appears,
pleased with her cat-face, black and glittered
with gold. I look for her
under the paint but recognise only
her voice and the surprise of her eyebrows.


It is still Wednesday here, so I am cheating a little on the Poetry Thursday - however it is only half an hour until it's tomorrow, and Thursday ...

Today I posted off the manuscript for my second collection of poetry. It is a huge relief to get it off and away. However at the same time I feel a little bereft. It is not unlike all your children leaving home.

Now I shall have to busy myself with another writing project.

Tomorrow I am meeting my daughter after work. I will go with her to pick up my granddaughter from school. After that I am meeting up with a friend for dinner in town. She has come down from the North Island for a few days in Dunedin. We were at high school together, so we have been friends for forty years now.

I feel tired and ready for an early night after two short sleeps. I feel blagh with a head cold. I feel a little lonely because ABM is away all this week. But one good thing - even though I should be feeling old, I don't.


Friday, 5 May 2006

Poetry Thursday

I'd like to let you all know about the launch of the Poetry Thursday website set up by Lynn of Sprigs and Liz Elayne.

As of today, like all Poetry Thursday contributors, I will be posting a poem as part of my blog.

Here is tonight's poem:

monkey puzzle

As a Girl Guide
practicing Scottish Country Dancing
with Leeanne Rutherford my partner,
rehearsing reels in a white dress and sash
on a bare, brown lawn beside a tree
outside the Riversdale Church Hall,
I discovered how sweaty a hand,
how much a ring on a finger
could feel like a wart,
how beautiful I would never be,
or tall, how pale an ailing sky,
how feathery the thorns,
how geometrical and black
like arms held up in horror,
or surrender, the branches
of the monkey puzzle.


Thanks to those who showed concern at the possible sinking of the east coast of New Zealand by a tsunami. It appears the size of the tsunami's wash upon our shores was nothing to the effect of the reports from the BBC and the CCN on a sleeping New Zealand.

NZ Civil Defence personnel had been informed 15 minutes after the initial warning report was issued from Hawaii, that there was in fact no threat, and so they toddled off to their beds assured that all was well. HOWEVER the BBC and CCN weren't as informed. So how were the inhabitants of Gisborne, NZ to know which was the correct version? The combined overseas TV reports with the worried midnight phone calls from Northern Hemisphere friends and relatives? Or the silence from the Civil Defence? Better to hedge your bets, fill up the car with petrol and drive to higher ground.

All hell broke loose in the morning once NZ woke to find that there MIGHT have been a tsunami and the Civil Defence guys had failed to let us know that there MIGHT have been a tsunami. Go figure!

I'm with the Civil Defence guys - how could they have predicted the effect of over-reactive, overseas TV news reports and worried midnight phone calls? But rest assured, from now on Civil Defence will not be caught napping! Plans have been put into place this very day in order to make sure that next time there might have been a tsunami, people will be informed that there might have been a tsunami - even if they have to be woken up in order to be told! Aint life grand?

Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...