Monday, March 23, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Hinemoana Baker in Victoria Street









Towards the end of last year I became aware of this public poem in Victoria Street. Hinemoana Baker was a guest at the Canterbury Poets' Collective readings, and this was one of the poems that she read. I love her interpretation of what the river (Otakaro - the Maori name for the Avon River) might say to the street. The reference to the hand of the clock refers to the clock tower in Victoria Street which stopped at the time of the 2011 February 22nd earthquake.

Himemoana Baker is a poet, musician and playwright. She has published three books of poetry, most recently waha/mouth.She was born in Christchurch, brought up in Whakatane and Nelson and now lives in Wellington where in 2014 she was Writer in Residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Radishes


We have a large hillside garden here, mostly laid out in trees, shrubs and lawns which I try to keep in check, not always successfully. And then at the top of the slope are three raised beds which are the Mister's department, he takes care of the vegetables while I take care of the rest. We have a great crop of tomatoes, the rest of his efforts are somewhat experimental, especially since the vegetable beds don't really receive the desired amount of full sun.


He has been trying to grow radishes. None of them have yet produced enough of a root to make anything worth eating. On the other hand, it turns out that they produce edible pods which you can see in the photo here.


And here they are in a stir fry. Delicious.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lake Tekapo Again


Another shot of Lake Tekapo in winter - May last year, to be precise. It was a gloriously still, clear sky day. I came across this one last week when I was looking for photos with roads in them. You can't see the road in this shot, but it fits Carmi's theme for this week - Bodies of Water.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On the Road



The South Island of New Zealand is spectacular. It is very popular with tourists who often travel in hired vehicles. Lately, however, there have been a number of serious, sometimes fatal, accidents involving foreign drivers, which has prompted a good deal of controversy about how easy it is to drive here on an international drivers licence, and whether it should be allowed.

I wonder how many of those who think it should be a lot more difficult have ever travelled overseas and hired a rental vehicle on their own travels.

The problem is, though, that New Zealand roads are not always what our visitors are used to. The first of these photos is a narrow side road up Mt John near Lake Tekapo, which leads nowhere but the observatory up there (which is nevertheless, an increasingly popular tourist spot). The second photo, however, is a State Highway. It is the route through the Haast Pass from the south end of the West Coast of the South Island, through the mountains to Wanaka and Queenstown, an extremely popular tourist area. It can be a very dangerous road in bad weather. Even in good weather, good driving habits are essential. It is very easy for those used to driving on the right hand side of the road to cross the centre line, and meet oncoming traffic with little warning round a blind bend.

On the particular trip when I took this photo, we met a Canadian couple at Lake Wanaka, who declared that New Zealand was the "twisty road capital of the world". They might well be right! Twisty, narrow, sometimes dangerous but very beautiful.

For more road themed photos visit Carmi here.

Monday, March 09, 2015

A Drink of Water


I was at a party last weekend, and one of the guests was holding forth on his trip to Palestine, along with his wife. He described day to day conditions in the refugee camps, and stated that we couldn't imagine what it was like to live without running water, sewage and so forth. I really wanted to ask him if he had been walking round Christchurch with his eyes shut for the last few years. It wouldn't have needed a trip to the other side of the world, just to the other side of the city, to find out what it was like for the residents most badly affected by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, who most certainly did have to do without running water, sewage and electricity, in some cases for considerable periods of time. (In one case I heard of, two years using a Portaloo because of a lack of working sewage). In our own case, it was a couple of days for electricity, a couple of weeks for running water, and two or three months before our sewage was really functioning properly, although it was semi-usable - and we thought ourselves lucky compared to some. I still recall that it was the most joyous moment I have ever experienced when someone called out "the water's back on!"

In the aftermath of the quakes, many formerly capped springs and wells burst open. The photo above shows one. This is outside a beautiful function centre and Thai health spa, where they have piped the water so that anyone may freely fill up water bottles. There were big queues of people here after the quakes, and I still spot a few people making use of it whenever I go past, as some believe the fresh spring water tastes better than treated tap water. Also, it is convenient for joggers to fill water bottles, and I have seen dog walkers put down a small bowl and fill it for their dog to have a drink. So - a fresh tasting treat now, but in 2011, an essential supply for many.

Visit Carmi's Thematic Photographic for more contributions on the theme Drink.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The First Post in a While

I have had a very laid back summer,which has meant both lack of impetus to write blog posts, and lack of anything really compelling to write about. Life has been quite domestic, involving reading, sewing, gardening, and general lazing around, with a few weeks off work over Christmas and then back to the four days a week work routine.

Last weekend my daughter brought peaches from her tree for preserving in jars, which reminded me of this post. We are just past the four year anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake, and peach bottling always reminds me, for reasons that you will see if you click on the link.

Recently, in Auckland, (well north of here thankfully), a number of Queensland fruit flies have been discovered. An intensive campaign of surveillance and eradication is taking place. Visitors to New Zealand sometimes think it is quaint that our immigration controls are more interested in contraband fruit (an orange, say, forgotten in one's luggage) than in undeclared valuables. This pest is why. If it becomes established, it could wreck our horticultural industry. I have read that it could devastate crops so much that home gardeners would just stop bothering to try and grow fruit, as it is rendered inedible without intensive toxic sprays to keep the pest at bay.

The shops in the exclusion zone are suffering too, as fruit can come in but not leave the zone - so their potential customers are greatly reduced. The peaches on D's tree are beautiful and juicy, it would be a shame not to be able to enjoy fresh fruit like this.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Shooting Star, by Greg O'Connell

Shooting Star

It starts with the ocean in the sky, that sea
in outer space, dense shoals of debris

comet-fragments, asteroid-remnants, swimming
blindly into the Earth’s gaseous net. Each meteor

is finned flesh: silver scales, a gaping mouth,
a luminous flash. And we are the night anglers

who would hook each blazing fish. All our lives
we’ve known how to wish.

© Greg O'Connell

It has been a privilege over the past year to take part in a small poetry workshop group in which Greg O'Connell is one of the members. Greg has a background of writing children's poetry. From there he has expanded into writing poetry for adults also. His sense of word play and musicality extends into his adult poems, making them a joy to listen to. He is also a supportive and perceptive commenter on other people's poems, and his suggestions are always pertinent.

I am grateful to Greg for permission to republish this poem, which originally appeared in the Christchurch Press, as my Tuesday Poem this week.

Greg was born in Oamaru and has lived in Christchurch and the West Coast. A number of his poems have been published in the School Journal, and also in A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children, edited by Paula Green. He also travels to schools to present interactive performance poetry shows and workshops. There is a very full and interesting biography on Greg's website.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Thematic Photographic: Animal Planet




My favourite road trip stop is just north of Kaikoura, where you can stand on the road verge - State Highway 1, the main route from the bottom of the South Island to the top of the North Island - and look down on the beach just a few feet below, at the seal colony where these cute pups were lounging. It is the most accessible mainland seal colony in New Zealand, and perhaps in the world. You can also walk up a short track on the other side of the road to a waterfall, where the pups play while their mums are at sea. They swim up the creek to the pool below the waterfall.

Unfortunately for the seals, some people will try and spoil things. We observed one foolhardy pair walking between the seals and the water, flapping their arms and rushing them in an attempt to get a more lively looking photo. It's a pity they didn't get more than they bargained for. These are wild animals after all, and can definitely injure if they decide to attack. Looking down from the top of the low cliff is plenty close enough for good photos.

Thematic Photographic this week is celebrating animal planet. For more creatures, head over here.