Wet Snow

Now I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted and I won’t bore you with the details, but lets see if I can get back to it.

A week ago our particular part of Canterbury had the first settling of snow in what feels like FOREVER! It started in the usual way, i.e. to remind us that only English plums think it’s warm enough for spring

I grew hopeful as the settling started in earnest

and then the flakes started joining hands to form big soft saucers

It wasn’t long before it stopped and the outside temp said it wouldn’t last

Quick, outside to enjoy the magic, where the warmth was displayed in the wet drops on the Cook Strait kowhai

but a male komako was not deterred, although he failed to register his usual falling scale of bellbird chimes

for he was here to sup from these upturned cups. Too busy to enjoy…

this shadowless time where the reflected, even light displays the stripes on the cabbage tree leaves

quickly now things go to slush

Time to find the first daffodils

sheltered by the wiggy wiggy – Champion of the Divaricates

with red zig-zags of interlocking divarication

Leading to the avenue of birch and oak and…

new alder catkins ready to spring open, releasing pollen while old cones harbour a few seeds that feed the hungry finches. Yet safe from…

the winters bark stripping sheep, waiting for their daily supplements of hay and tagasaste and old apples

Since my first snowfall as a child on the fringe of the Urewera I’ve been struck by the way cabbage tree and wharariki/coastal flax give us a taste of snow in the tropics

just a few days later our foehn wind dialled up a storm sail that was raised on high as if to drag this legendary waka of Aoraki* (and his brothers Rakiroa, Rakirua, and Rarakiroa) into warmer seas.

So for a time it was almost summer, then back to grey.

* In brief: In the times before men, when the gods strode across the heavens Aoraki and his brothers came down from the heavens to check out their father’s new lover, Papatuanuku/The Earth Mother, they paddled around in the ocean for days looking for her, not realising that they were on her. Eventually a massive storm arose that capsized their canoe, the brothers climbed onto the upturned hull but the storm then came from the south and froze them in place also turning their hair white. The canoe is now the South Island/Te Waipounamu and the brothers are the four highest peaks of the Southern Alps.

There are many versions of this legend, this is just one.

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