Tag Archives: spring

1863. Late winter

It was winter – late winter – and Athol went walking. The trees were bare; the ground had mounds of rotting leaves.

Athol kicked the piles of leaves as he walked. It may have still been winter but a mellow breeze blew the loose leaves in swirls. Athol sat on a log and thought. Just before the leaves began to fall his world was a different place. He was secure in his job; secure in his family; secure in his life.

Now all had gone – no job, no family, no life. The world had changed in harmony with the season. There was no hope. He should stop pretending that things would return to normal. Things wouldn’t. He should try to move on – but how and to where?

In front of him was a broken branch. It must have snapped in a winter storm. The snapped branch looked like the head of a crocodile! Ferocious! Fearful!

Athol moved on; he couldn’t sit and mope forever. He kicked another pile of leaves. It exposed a little frog nestling itself from the winter. It was asleep. It was waiting for the warmth of spring. It would die once exposed to fierce winter elements. Athol covered the frog over with protective dead leaves.

He went on his way.

1779. The days were drawing out

The days were drawing out. Summer was approaching. Spring had not fully run its course, but the sun was definitely rising earlier and earlier. Soon it would be the summer solstice.

Young Grant was about to turn twelve. His birthday was on the last day of spring. “The start of a new beginning”, his mother would say. “Grant’s birth was the start of a lovely summer.”

Grant asked his parents if he could watch the sunrise at the solstice. “Of course you can,” said his mother. “What a silly question! There’s no school tomorrow.”

The next morning, the day after his birthday, Grant watched the sunrise. The day had dawned cloudless. It was a perfect start to summer.

Grant wasn’t the only one watching it. His parents were there, as was his older brother and younger sister. It was a family affair!

After the sun rose, Grant went to bed. He was dog tired having stayed up all night. The rest of the family were fine. They had gone to bed, had a good night’s sleep, and simply got up early.

1650. A vegetative state

As usually happens here on this blog when an extra round number appears, something slightly different happens. Today, to celebrate story Number 1650, we shall look at aspects of my vegetable garden.

Although humility goes hand in hand with gardening, one could perhaps be excused for showing a little pride in one’s harvest. At least occasionally. So with a great deal of self-effacing non-aggrandisement, I submit four untouched photographs of me standing in front of four of my gardening successes. There could easily be a lot more, but modesty prevents over exposure.

Here is me standing in front of a couple of turnips. As you can see, harvesting one would’ve been adequate for my needs.

Here I am standing in front of a prize cauliflower. As can be seen from my shirt, these photos were all taken on the same day.

Let the size of my watermelons speak for itself.

Finally, here is a globe artichoke. It was late in the season; hence it’s quite small compared to ones gathered earlier.

To aspire to continued success this coming spring and summer, I have extended the vegetable garden by digging up my front lawn! It is now all ready and waiting for the date of the (hopefully) last frost to pass – which here in New Zealand is usually around October 25th. Here are a few snapshots of the work in progress. I just might post the occasional picture throughout the coming season to show progress!

Cheerio for now! And if I don’t appear too often on the blogs this coming antipodean summer, it’ll be because I’ll be out on the front lawn weeding.

1600. Stream lines

Recently – like a month or so ago – I got a message of congratulations from WordPress on this blog’s 6th anniversary. It’s actually been going a couple of years longer because I suffered a bout of scruples, deleted the first few years, and started again. Be all that as it may, this is Story 1600. At first I intended to write 100 stories, then 365 (one a day), then 555 stories (the number of keyboard sonatas written by Dominico Scarlatti), then 1001 (in honour of the Arabian Nights), and then 1500, and now 1600… and what the heck…

Sticking to a time-dishonoured tradition on this blog, a significant story number calls for a celebration of some sort. So this is a walk with my camera (I don’t have a mobile phone as I’m so “tomorrow”) starting from the back of the property where I live. There a spring trickles out the side of a hill. I’ll follow the trickle of water for as far as possible before hitting neighbouring property and we’ll see what happens… (Note that photos of the crayfish and the pukeko are not my own, and nor are the last three photos).

The spring seeps out the bottom of the hill and creates quite a swamp.

It’s a complete soggy bog, almost impossible to walk over, although the dog (who seems to have joined me uninvited) has no trouble traversing the mud.

Little rivulets quickly appear and within maybe forty yards (36 metres or so) a small stream has formed.

Soon after, a little pool is shaped, gathers strength, and would crash down in white water torrents if things were multiplied by a 100!

Now the cat has joined me – uninvited. Oh well – what is a celebration without friends?

Almost immediately, the newly formed stream flows through a stream-cut channel and a natural fernery.

It enters a glade of willows – mainly fallen – where the water divides into stagnant pools. The thicket and swamp make it almost impenetrable.

Very soon the water re-emerges and flows down a gentle valley. By now it could be called a “stream” and over time it has carved out its path, exposing rocks and boulders.

Beneath the boulders many freshwater crayfish hide. They are a protected species – so no hors d’oeuvres tonight!

A skylark sings high in the sky. I can’t see it for the glare, but I’m joined by six fantails. These tiny birds dart and flutter around my head, twittering madly. They drive the dog crazy, but the cat remains nonchalant – knowing from experience that such zig-zagging creatures are uncatchable. Of course, it could be claimed that I’m a fantail whisperer and they twitter around my head because they love me. But my walk disturbs gnats in the grass, and this presents a feast for the fantails. Their fluttery flight is impossible to capture with my camera, but one bird sat long enough on a fence wire to allow a photograph!

There are literally thousands – if not millions – of Little Blue Butterflies and Common Copper Butterflies feeding on the winter-flowering daisies and dandelions. My steps create clouds of tiny butterfly wings!

A lone pukeko doesn’t mind being disturbed.

Soon the stream becomes wider and still. It’s as if it’s collecting itself, waiting to tumble to the next stage.

And here it’s on its way!

Immediately it forms a deep pool that has an eel lurking in it.

Someone thinks it’s his private swimming pool.

Thank goodness there’s a surf life-saver watching.

From here, the stream goes into shady undergrowth. It passes into a culvert, under a road, and out onto a neighbouring farmer’s farm.

I guess the walk has taken about 25 minutes. The stream cannot be followed anymore. But I know it later joins the Patea River.

It passes through Stratford, my local town. The volcano behind is Mt Taranaki.

From there, at a town called Patea, it flows out to sea!

Phew! What an exhausting walk!

1400. Spring Equinox

It is just two weeks before the Spring Equinox. Today it’s raining and blowing a gale. I wonder how best to “celebrate” this blog’s 1400th story.

Putting on a warm pullover and raincoat I went up the little hill at the back of my house where there are the ruins of a home. The derelict house was built in the late 1800s. Growing in the field around the house are clumps of now wild daffodils and snowdrops, all in full flower. The field was once a garden. There is a grove of camellia trees in bloom, red and white. The abandoned kitchen cupboard hides a few old preserving jars and a starling’s nest.

The farming Hamblyn family used to live there. It was there that Charles and Mary Hamblyn began their married life in 1887. The excitement of breaking in new land! From wild forest to farm! From flooding quagmire to dairy cows! It was there they had their thirteen children. Two children died in infancy, but by 1905 there were eight healthy sons and three healthy daughters! Here’s a little information on some of them…

William Charles Hamblyn: the oldest son, a cheese-maker at the factory down the road, left for France on the 9th December 1916. Killed in France on the 9th of June 1917.

James Edward Hamblyn: the second son, a farm hand, left for France on the 13th April 1916. Missing, later declared killed in France, on the 9th September 1917.Henry John Hamblyn: the third son, a farm hand, left for France on the 5th of March 1916. Missing, later declared killed in France, on the 3rd of October 1916.

Thomas Day Hamblyn: the fourth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 9th December 1916. Killed in France on the 9th of June 1917, the same day as his oldest brother.

Richard Ernest Hamblyn: the fifth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 18th September 1916. On the 28 November 1917, declared “No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service”.

Frederick Leonard Hamblyn: the sixth son, a farm hand, left for France on the 28th September 1917. On the 4th of October 1917, classified as injured with an “indeterminate disability”. The authorities believed that four brothers killed and another ill was enough.

Before the two surviving veteran sons could return home, father Charles and youngest brother Osborne died back home in the 1918 flu epidemic.

I wonder who planted all those daffodils and snowdrops? Who established the grove of red and white of camellias? Was it Mary the mother, or the sisters Winifred, Bessie and Letitia? Perhaps it was their brother, Harold, who never went to war, or Richard and Frederick who came back. Perhaps it was the children themselves in an earlier time. Perhaps it was their father. Maybe even grandchildren.

Few remember the family of course. But there’s a remnant of memory in those flowers each year at the end of winter. In the field next to the old house a cow has had a calf. It’s a girl! It is two weeks before the Spring Equinox. It’s not a platitude to say new life begins to spin out of control.

Poem 80: When birds begin to sing

When birds begin to sing
I know with joy that spring is near.
Somehow, this time of year,
the birds join up in pairs and build
nests, lay eggs in song-filled
days, feed, are never stilled lest
the fledglings leave the nest too soon.

Fresh things are everywhere!
Flowers bloom! Fruit forms! The air – it cries
new life! And butterflies!
And bees! Yet here, in my old, spent
winter of discontent
I must not not forget to turn
the page, the page, the page.

(Based on the Vietnamese Luc Bat).

Poem 39: It seems we’ve entered into winter’s frost

(The poetic form selected for this month is the English or Shakespearean Sonnet).

It seems we’ve entered into winter’s frost.
Your sullen glances hold a cold distain.
Fourteen years together look as lost
And rain an icy sleet. There is no gain.

There was a springtime time when all was new.
We’d picnic in the willow’s lovely shade
And talk and dance and laugh the season through.
We thought our love was truly heaven-made.

As all four seasons come and all four go
Time turns quaint foibles into tiresome ways.
“Whose turn to cook?” is greeted with “Dunno”.
What future? How much longer are our days?

Tonight we both saw light on wedding bands;
Our children sang some songs, and we held hands.

Poem 38: New Zealand springtime

(The poetic form selected for this month is the Standard Habbie aka Burns Stanza. This is the last habbie for this month).

Spring has almost sprung Down Under,
Then summer will rip spring asunder.
But first the cuckoo ‘cross the tundra
Sings a lot.
Our cuckoos whistle! What a blunder!
I quite forgot.

Then let us think of little lambs
Cavorting round with new-born charms.
All hardened hearts are then disarmed.
What a clot!
They’re born in winter on the farms.
I quite forgot.

Let’s call to mind the blossom trees!
Their beauty brings us to our knees!
Pinks and whites in gentle breeze.
I’ve gone to pot!
The florets burst in frosty freeze.
I quite forgot.

Springtime comes all to and fro,
The ducklings hatched a month ago,
Mountains may still get some snow.
It’s ordered not!
The spring’s a messy dance you know.
I quite forgot.

Poems 23: The four seasons

(These limericks are the last of my first-of-the-month poems. There have been 35 poems in all. The weekly music finishes this coming Wednesday the 6th. There will have been 101 music compositions. The daily stories reach the finish line on Thursday 7th with story 1001).

WINTER

25winter

Take note that the weather each winter
Is grey and in need of a tinter
If you slip on the ice
Which isn’t that nice
Your leg’ll get put in a splinter.

SPRING

25spring

Just look at the weather each Spring
It’s an utterly pleasurable thing
It seems to get lotta
Brighter and hotta
With blossom buds blooming their bling.

SUMMER

25summer

Observe that the weather each summer
Can be a bit of a bummer
They forecast a drought
But we hardly get out
It just gets crumbier and crumber.

FALL

25fall

It seems that the weather each fall
Is worse than the autumn before
The more the rain wetters
The colder it getters
I’d rather no weather at all.

(Finally, since some definitions of the limerick say it must be bawdy and involve a member of the higher clergy…)

25pig

Did you hear of the bishop of York
Who was heavily into his pork?
Bits of the gristle
Sliced up his pizzle
So now he pokes with a fork.