Totara tree berries much loved by native birds including the Tui
Totara tree towers towards the sky
We happen to share our place with many Totara trees, some about 80 to 100 years old and still growing. We are mindful of our custodial responsibility. Trees have deep meaning reflected in Maori forest mythology a site where Maori have many whakatauki or sayings that use trees as metaphors.
Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky. We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness, wrote Kahlil Gibran.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy at the end of his address to delegates at the Anniversary Convocation of the National Academy of Sciences, told what the French Marshal Lyautey said to his gardener:
“Plant a tree tomorrow.” And the gardener said, “It won’t bear fruit for a hundred years.” “In that case,” Lyautey said to the gardener, “plant it this afternoon.
I could not decide on one quote hence I include three in my second challenge post. Thank you Carol for nominating me for a three-day quote challenge. Please check out Carol’s Food For Thought post at https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com
In the fun spirit of voluntary participation of the challenge, nominees may choose to
Tonight is as good as it gets on a New Zealand summer evening. Balmy, little cloud cover and the new quarter moon has appeared in the indigo sky. Windless, no traffic, no streetlights in our rural neighbourhood, it is ideal for an after-dinner stroll. The ridges of the western hills are silhouetted against the setting sun, casting deep shadows across the paddocks.
Later once darkness has cloaked the land, we will hear a possum grunt, the raucous squawks of the pukeko, Ruru’s moooorpoooork calls from the trees and the faint replies echoing from the hills as the Moreporks, New Zealand’s owl, go about their nightly hunt for food. Once, while strolling along the streambank, I saw a morepork chick perched on a low branch of a Totara tree. Silent and still, its round unblinking eyes solemnly stared. I’m not sure who watched who that evening.
At different times, we have sat with friends and family in the garden, wine and binoculars at hand and contemplated the mystery and the beauty of the universe, admiring the great Milky splash, the Southern Cross stars that are displayed on the NZ flag. Mars is familiar as are the Pot and the Scorpion. We needed to use the NZ astronomy website to identify other stars such as the seven sisters, Pleiades, or Matariki as Maori call this cluster of stars. In June-July, the re-appearance of Matariki in our southern skies is celebrated because it reminds us of beginnings, the promise of the new growing season. Maori have ancient knowledge of stars and they have many stories to tell. “Swimming across the darkness is Te Ikaroa (the Milky Way), the great fish of Rangi, the Sky Father.”
In January 2007, as we watched McNaughton’s Comet streak across the western night sky, Sis-in-law mused how stargazing natural universal events links us with all skywatchers beyond our time and in far places.
Who will wonder the universal mysteries and admire this comet when it returns in a million years?
Since I returned home, I’ve been busy in the garden – with some manual help from number two son and his sons. Two-year-old pea-picking, ‘tato inspector who featured in some of my posts last year is a ‘big boy’ now aged three and his baby brother is now 18 months old with a another sibling expected in August – how time flies. I’ll just have to get more garden trowels and forks for these budding gardeners. At least Daddy gets fit giving wheel-barrow rides. And I got to re-plant the spring onions and red cabbages that three-year-old triumphantly declared to be ‘weeds’.
Vegetables and fruit are quite expensive to buy at present. And the stuff fresh-picked from the garden seems so much tastier. I’m pushing my luck and trying to get some vegetables growing for our winter months. I’ve never started this late in the season before. I can’t believe it’s almost a year ago I wrote about Matariki (Pleiades) re-appearing in our southern skies to herald a new growing season. It’s time to celebrate the Maori New Year again. As I mentioned in my last post, weedy growth was rampant in my absence. See my before and after photos.
In the interest of getting a head start, I cheated this time and bought the mini-variety seedlings of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. I read they mature quicker – so I’m crossing my fingers that is so. The temperatures are not too bad – the coldest we experienced the other night was about 4 degrees C. The garden beds are reasonbly sheltered from prevailing winds and have a north-south alignment so get full sun. I have raised beds and and compost so here’s hoping we don’t get an early frost.
Friend at work has put in a very early crop of potatoes. I’ve got some seed Cliff Kidney potatoes chitted and will plant them and see how we go. I’ll put frost cloth over at nights as needed.
We’re enjoying the last of our tamarillo fruits. It’s a rewarding fruit – raw or cooked. Loaded with Vitamin C and makes a wonderful fruit crumble for dessert or sauce to accompany pork. Such an easy plant to grow – never know whether to call it a tree or not. Bigger problem is the rats and possums that also love the fruit. Must the be the healthiest pests around!
Next on the action list is to sow Broad Beans or a green crop for over-winter. Then the strawberry beds need attention and feeding. Then there’s the roses to prune. And I really should deal seriously to the pests. On reflection, think I’ll add a To Do – snuggle up in front of the fire, glass of wine in hand and read the new season’s gardening catalogues.