Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What a difference a day makes! Anna and Mike.

Thurs 17 Nov
It has been blowing hard all day, wind with a tear inducing chill. Huge clouds wobble and roll across the heavens, big and bloated with rain. Sometime in the afternoon, there is a gap between showers, and I take a gamble that it might be dry for an hour and go out for a walk, knowing that I will probably get soaked.
The wind is exhilarating, the noise of it is everywhere.

 Fri 18 Nov
Today could not be more different. Just a zephyr of a breeze, a playful ripple on the water. Sky a monotonous blue. I find myself interested in detail, a bumble bee sipping nectar from yellow kowhai flowers, black swans and ducks with their young, a solitary Royal Spoonbill. I hardly look at the sky.

Phormium tenax (NZ flax) showing old and new flower spikes.

Royal Spoonbill.

Mallard ducks.

Black Swan.

Black Swans and Cygnets, if you look carefully at the swan on the right you will see that she has a cygnet resting on her back.

Hawksbury Lagoon.

Kowhai flowers with a happy bumble bee (Bombus terrestris). New Zealand has 4 species of bumble bee, all introduced from England in 1885 and 1906 to help pollinate red clover.

Kowhai flowers after shedding their yellow petals.

Sunday 20 Nov
A very special day.
Today we had a visit from Anna and Mike. I have been reading and enjoying Anna's pottery blog -Anna's Ceramics- for quite some time now, and it was a delight to have a visit from Anna and her husband Mike, whilst they were on a tour of the South Island of New Zealand. One of the realities of living where we do is that we are unlikely to ever meet many of my blogging friends, so this visit was quite a historic event! We really enjoyed their company, had lots to talk about, and do hope that we are able to see them again one day.

Anna and Mike in front of my wood fired kiln.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Waking and Shaking!

Thank you to those of you who wrote in this morning to see if we were OK after the earthquake that struck New Zealand just after midnight, it was kind of you to think of us, and your thoughtfulness does help us feel part of a wider caring community.

The first I was aware of the earthquake was when I looked at the blog this morning and found that people had started writing in to check how we were. I put on the radio and was in time to hear our Prime Minister answering a question about the quake, so I knew it had been a bad one.

A screen shot from geonet.org.nz that I took at 8.20am today showing the last 500 moderate to large quakes. The line of red dots that run in a line along the upper third of the South Island, run from the epicentre of the first quake to Wellington on the other side of the Cook Straight.
We live just North of Dunedin which is in the lower half of the South Island of New Zealand. The quake was centred to the north and inland of Christchurch, probably a 5 and a half hour drive from here. It would seem that the quake triggered a number of quakes up the South Island and across the Cook Straight to the North Island. Wellington, our Capital City, received damage, as did a number of towns in the South Island, and very sadly it would appear that 2 people died in the South Island nearer to where the original Magnitude 7.5 quake was centred.

I recall being half asleep an hour or so after going to bed and hearing sound a bit like a heavy vehicle on the road that went on for a long time, thinking "earth quake", but then putting down a "light headed" sensation that I had to my feeling unwell. There was also a distant thumping sound that I could not understand.

When I went to buy milk at the local shop this morning, Lynda, the shop owner, was weary with lack of sleep and was surprised that I had not known about the earthquake, or the evacuation that followed at 3.30am due to the risk of tsunami in this coastal community. Somehow Laura and I had slept through the sirens that were supposed to have alerted us! Lynda said that the earthquake had gone on for about 3 minutes, and it was different from the usual ones. She had doubted for a while that it was an earthquake as it gave her the feeling that she was carsick or giddy, and she found it hard to understand what was going on.

Many people had been woken up at 3.30 am and told to move to high ground because of fears of a tsunami. Some people spent the rest of the night in the town hall or the school, others slept in their cars. Lynda and her husband Maurice had spent 2 hours huddled up in their car on some higher ground, and had finally come back to the village around 6am and opened their shop, which is near the top of a hill.

I thought nothing had been affected at home, but I discovered that the cuckoo clock had stopped at the time of the earthquake, and that the distant thumping sound that I had been aware of, but could not make sense of, was the sound of the clock's weights thumping the wall!

The quake has been devastating for some people, and we do feel for them. Affected parts of the country have suffered numerous after shocks, some of them serious. It will be some time before news gets digested and sorted, and we have a full overview of what has happened. It would appear that road and rail travel and even ferry sailings have been disrupted. Some smaller towns and communities are cut off.

I'm a bit tired today so will finish this now. The flowers with this post are photos I took in the garden. I know the news is sad and grim, but it is good to be reminded of beauty, and the fragile beauty of a flower says a lot about life and what is precious in it.