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Archive for the ‘Seasons & Cycles’ Category

Winter Woollies

It was five degrees when I left home at 9.30am this morning. I was well bundled up with warm jacket and hat. Recently I’ve noticed my feet sometimes feel cold when I’m walking, so today I put on possy-wool socks.

Warm socks – well-darned

Walking down New Regent Street I was surprised and slightly horrified to see a young woman with a bare midriff and bare ankles. Some young people don’t seem to feel the cold, but it seems foolish to have bare skin on such a cold day. Maybe she was heading to a warm environment. What do you think?

I think it’s best to wrap up warm
and be prepared for winter’s storm

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Our very first narcissus for this year is flowering.

Actually it’s not the very first. There was another dead head beside it on the plant, but the flowers are outside the fence, and these last few weeks have been so busy I haven’t walked along that part of the fence, so hadn’t seen it.

The name Narcissus comes from a character in Greek mythology who was extremely handsome. It was said that he would live to old age, if he never looked at himself. Many female admirers were entranced by his beauty, but he rejected them all. One of them, Echo, was so upset by his rejection that she withdrew from the world to waste away. All that was left of her was a whisper. This was heard by the goddess Nemesis, who, in response, made Narcissus fall in love with his own reflection in a pool. He stared at this reflection until he died and was replaced by a narcissus flower.

His self-absorption was complete
but the result was bittersweet

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The autumn sun is shining and spring flowers are starting to appear.

There are nerines beside the fence
Clumps of snowflakes in several places
Long-awaited camelliae
and winter irises

There are also flowers on the banksia rose, but they’re too high up to get a photo.

As autumn’s morphing into spring
I wonder what will winter bring?

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Rain precluded a beach walk today, so we went to the Botanic Gardens instead. The autumn trees there are beautiful and especially so when viewed through misty rain.

We weren’t sure what cafés would be open for morning tea but the one at the Antigua Boatsheds was welcoming. Beside the building there was a large pink rabbit.

Later s/he came inside the café and handed out Easter eggs to the children.

Easter, originally Eostre, is a spring festival, and its story of rebirth always seems out of place in the southern hemisphere. The Easter Bunny predates Christianity and was originally the Moon-hare, sacred to the Goddess in both eastern and western traditions. Seeing the Easter Bunny gives me a gratifying reminder of how pagan traditions have persisted into the present day.

We mark it at wrong time of year
yet Easter Bunnies still appear

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A seasonal delight at this time of year is the opportunity to scrunch through piles of dead leaves. Scrunch is a special word which describes the noise produced by hard things being pressed together. To make that noise the leaves must be dry, and our recent lack of rain is useful here. The leaves must also be curly, they won’t have that crunchy sound if they are flat on the ground.

Last week I enjoyed scrunching my way past Victoria Square:

Autumn leaves by Victoria Square

Today I’ve been scrunching along Bealey Avenue.

Autumn leaves on Bealey Avenue

Where have you been scrunching lately?

It’s satisfying when you scrunch
to hear those crisp dry leaves go crunch

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It’s International Women’s Day, and there’s little sign of public acknowledgement, presumably because there’s so much else on the public mind.

My thoughts are with the women of Ukraine. It is barely believable that just a few weeks ago they were living comfortably in situations similar to our own. Today they fear for their lives and those of their loved ones. Some are preparing to fight. I heard a woman interviewed who said it takes strength in the hand and fingers to fire a weapon. When asked how she would feel about killing someone she said she wasn’t thinking about that, just concentrating on the moment.

Many have left home, husbands, and other family to take their children on long journeys to uncertain safety, with tags showing their children’s blood group sewn into their clothes.

Ukrainian child refugees

There have been pictures of people carrying a loved pet, and I’ve wondered how long before those pets are abandoned. I wonder also about the Russian women watching their sons go off to fight, and facing arrest if they dare to protest. Putin seems always grim, with grim-faced men near him. Does he have a wife? a mother?

This is an appropriate day to invoke a Ukrainian goddess, but it was hard to find one. Zorya is a triple goddess whose name means dawn in Ukrainian. May there be a new dawn of peace for Ukraine and the world.

Interestingly the Phantom Billboards are striking a hopeful note.

Phantom Billboards

On this day I’m reminded of Virginia Woolf saying:

As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.

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Today marks eleven years since our city was shaken and forever changed by earthquakes. On each of the ten previous anniversaries I’ve been involved in facilitating a commemorative gathering beside the Ōtākaro/Avon River. We decided last year that we would make that the last one, and this year, because of Covid, there is no civic service either.

Tenth earthquake anniversary

Memories of the earthquake are planted deep inside the psyche of all who were here at that time. It was an experiential event that can never be fully understood by anyone from outside. While there’s no formal local gathering today, I expect I will wander over to the river, toss in a flower, and contemplate what happened, some of which I’ve recorded in this verse:

Before and After

Throughout the years before the quake
before the city’s mighty shake
our land we thought would never break
turned out to be a big mistake!

Once Rūaumoko got in action
the ground soon turned to liquefaction
with gravity in counteraction
it shook things up more than a fraction

So many houses gone a-tilt
whole neighbourhoods have been rebuilt
some suffer still survivors’ guilt
remembering the blood that spilt

And now eleven years have passed
since that day left us all aghast
the need to set things right was vast
our Red Zone now is fully grassed

There was a citizens’ committee
set up to plan for our new city
but then the Government got shitty
and over-rode them – what a pity!

But after all the ballyhoo
we finally have something new
a lovely river path, that’s true
and playground where the kids run through

Our town will never be the same
with much lost heritage a shame
new buildings sometimes earn acclaim
but few will merit long term fame

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Friday was a good day. our poetry group had an excellent meeting and there was an article in the Press about a site close to our cottage. This contained an error which I was able to use as a hook for a letter to the Editor.

Saturday started well with our weekly Zoom call to the daughters. I then checked the Press, found they hadn’t printed my letter, but on page 3 they’d used some of the information I’d given to print a correction to the previous day’s article. I felt miffed!

A break in the rain meant I could go out for a 20 minute walk. When I got home I went to do my daily Wordle, and found I couldn’t access it. The address bar at the top of the screen showed figures for the statistics for the 40 Wordles I’ve completed, but the screen was blank. I use Firefox as my preferred browser, believing their ethics are better than some providers. However, needs must when the devil drives (a phrase used by Shakespeare in 1601). I turned to Chrome and there Wordle awaited. I solved it on the second try, but my statistics didn’t show. Googling gave me a hint that Firefox had a loop around Wordle, but I still can’t get in that way today.

A friend visited in the afternoon and we enjoyed playing Canasta. She beat me in all three games, but I will have a chance for revenge in the not-too-distant future.

It’s raining again today, so no beach walk. Another walk was cancelled last Thursday because of rain. I heard the Auckland Harbour Bridge will be closed for several hours today because of high winds, and there are slips and road closures in Wellington. I hope the wet weather may dampen the enthusiasm of the peculiar protesters outside Parliament.

I had some setbacks yesterday
but better times are on their way

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I’ve been thinking about Before and After, because that is the topic for our first poetry group meeting next year. For those of us who live in Otautahi Christchurch time is often measured by whether it’s BQ, before earthquake, or AQ, after earthquake. The quakes that shook our city also shook up our lives, and much has changed since. Some people have had new houses built, others have moved to different areas. So much dates to BQ or AQ. Those who’ve moved here AQ don’t have the same experience or understanding.

The tangible remains of earthquake disruption are slowly growing fainter. The uninspiring official memorial remains, as do the poignant 185 white chairs on the site of St Luke’s Church. Now the 10th anniversary has passed ceremonies will become fewer, but the date of 22 February 2011 will never be forgotten.

Time is relative, and some events remain fresh in our memories while others fade. As another calendar year draws to an end I wonder if our perception of time may be changing.

I wonder whether in future we’ll come to think of BC, before Covid, and AC, after Covid. Will there ever be an AC?

It’s close to two years since Covid entered our consciousness, and it seems life may never return to the way it was before. After Covid, if it ever comes, will be different from before Covid, as AQ is different from BQ.

Is there a poem I could write
to show the fore and after sight?

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I’m feeling confused in this festive season. For more than half my life it’s been my practice to celebrate the Summer solstice in preference to Christmas, yet this year the two seem to have conflated into a muddled mixture lacking clarity.

Our long-standing ritual group met socially with minimal acknowledgement of the season. I attended a Solstice ritual with another group who usually fulfill my spiritual needs to mark the turning of the year’s wheel, yet found that ceremony to have more of a Christian focus than I would choose.

Summer Solstice altar

All around me there are symbols of Christmas with carols in many quarters. I know and enjoy those that tell traditional stories such as Good King Wenceslas and We Three Kings, although I long for more mention of Mary and appreciated the Facebook joke that suggested some people wait until Mary’s waters have broken before doing their Christmas shopping.

When I was younger my favourite carol was Te Harinui, because it spoke of a summer Christmas in my own land. Raised consciousness has revealed its colonial prejudices and it’s understandably years since I’ve heard it in public.

Yesterday was the Longest Day, and the hottest at over 30°. I met a friend for an early morning tea, then Stephen and I enjoyed a walk around the central city with lunch at Riverside Market. We chanced to meet an old friend whom I’ve not seen for years. Usually we would have hugged, but in these virus-aware times we refrained. Life is so different now with masks, signing in, and vaccine passes. My immediate circle manages to avoid consumer excesses, with gifts that are kind to the earth.

This is the time to enjoy summer fruits, especially cherries and apricots. Sadly last week’s heavy rain has wrecked many of these crops – climate crisis impacting on our seasonal treats.

Summer Solstice is when we consider what we’ve achieved over the past year. In 2021 it seems the main achievement for all of us has been survival. Stephen and I consider ourselves fortunate to have come through the year with physical and mental health intact and without financial worries. So many others have been less fortunate.

Next year is again uncertain. Omicron will inevitably move into our community and the climate crisis looms ever larger. Meantime, a blackbird is nesting in our banksia rose, and piwakawaka flit about the garden. We sit outside in the warmth, enjoying the shade and breeze, and appreciating the present moment.

Can you identify the reason
we have to celebrate the season?

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