Between Christmas and New Year, we visited Canberra for a few short days. Among other things, we went bush walking in Woods Reserve.
We had meant to walk up to Gibraltar Falls, a walk we did many times when I was a child.
But the 2003 bushfires had destroyed much of the trail.
So, we walked as far as we could, then turned back to the car.
It was worth driving up.
I wonder though, what conclusions you could draw from the respective formative influences on CIA and PJD, of Karekare and West Auckland beaches like it, and the dry hot landscape of Canberra?
Photos by PJD & CIA, Woods Reserve and Gibraltar Falls, December, 2012. We didn’t see any snakes.
New Zealand (and perhaps especially Auckland) is famous for four seasons in one day. Theoretically, this would make the challenge simple. Perversely, though, the trouble with rapid shifts in the weather is that it can be hard to pin down an iconic moment that marks the shift from one season to another. In Christchurch, the arrival of the migratory godwits marks the beginning of spring. But summer? Summer is elusive.
Meanwhile, we walked down to French Bay*. Today was a magnificent day. The sun glowed in a nearly cloudless sky, the trees swayed in a gentle breeze. A sign, perhaps, of the summer to come? Kauri trees struck elegant silhouettes, surrounded by smaller cabbage trees. At the beach in French Bay, there were paddle-boarders, and a handful of others sitting on the sand. After all, the season is only changing, and the water is not very warm (yet). The pohutukawa were not flowering here, but they had begun to bud – the distinctive red blossoms often flare up, bright red, for Christmas. As we walked elsewhere in Titirangi, we saw that the pohutukawa had started flowering – some trees covered in the bright blooms, others with just a few. The best moment of the afternoon came with the discovery of a swing, above a path to the beach. And next to it? A pohutukawa tree, flourishing and with the brightest flowers you can imagine.
And we realised this was it. Pohutukawa flowers represent that iconic moment: summer is here.
Photos by PJD & CIA, with invaluable assistance from Nature. All photos were taken today, as we walked around Titirangi, Auckland.
* I first heard of French Bay when I saw an amazing painting (one of several with that title) by Titirangi artist Colin McCahon. McCahon is one of New Zealand’s best known, and most influential artists. This particular French Bay painting is often (always? we haven’t been for a while) displayed in the Toi Te Papa (Te Papa’s art collection) on Level Four of that wonderful museum. So, it was with some excitement that I walked down to the bay for the first time today.
A lot of people go to Luzern (or, Lucerne, for the Francophones) to see the famous wooden bridge (Kapellbrücke). And indeed, we saw the bridge…but Luzern has other things to offer the intrepid explorer. Not that much exploring is necessary. The directions were clear.
Luzern is an old city, strategically located, surrounded by its lake, and mountains. The city quickly developed an independent identity, and as with all medieval cities with an independent identity, it quickly established a need for walls. The canton of Luzern was one of the original members of the Eternal Swiss Confederacy, and its importance as a trade centre meant that it has long been an important regional hub, a role that continues today. Of course, such cities are often the focus of rivals, seeking greater influence, and it is Luzern’s city walls which we climbed to on this beautifully sunny Swiss day.
CIA recently wrote of the flatness of the Netherlands, and how we never quite got comfortable with it. Wellington is not flat, indeed, it is famous for the way that the houses crowd the ridges, clustered along steep hillsides. Yesterday was a Wellington special; what I like to call a nice day, spoiled by wind. Still, you can’t see the wind in these pictures, so…
You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.
But you can lose your breath.
Photos by PJD, around Oriental Bay, near where he and CIA used to live.
I have another post in mind today. I was composing the content in my head, on my way home from football (we lost, but not by much) as I walked along the waterfront. Wellington has a beautiful waterfront, which epitomises positive use of public space, and this evening it was looking particularly marvellous.
The weather was being quite strange. Mt Victoria was bathed in glorious sunshine, whilst the rest of the sky was bruised with dark clouds. I took the chance to catch an image of this, with some great lines of poetry, captured on concrete, that dot the waterfront.
As I contemplated the sky, I looked over my shoulder and saw two people looking intently at a tree. I figured there must be something happening there, and wandered over as they moved off. What on earth was so special about the tree? I had walked past with barely a glance. What could I have missed?
As I got closer, I finally saw it – a seal! How lucky was I?
You never know what you might see in Wellington.
Photos by PJD, unfortunately, he only had his phone to hand, so apologies for the quality. PJD thought about putting in references to Lucille, loose seal, and handfeeding, but decided to viciously repress his inner Arrested Development fan.
I am happy to be privileged enough to remember a moment like this one:
As PJD wrote yesterday, the pace of everyday life is fairly fast. So much so, that sometimes we (you, me, us) don’t really stop to catch those little moments (momentjes) in time which are hidden, not immediately apparent and which take a little more time to notice. A few weeks ago, I was reminded of this, as we slowed the pace of life down and meandered, somewhat aimlessly, enjoying the sunshine, through the cobbled streets of Amsterdam. It seemed like the whole city was out that day, enjoying the beautiful warmth, and we were just three friends, among many, our chatter and laughter melding into that around us of strangers, as the minutes, hours passed lazily by. Somewhere along the way, we caught a glimpse of this beautiful doorway out of the corner of our eyes. We’d already walked past, even though our pace was slow, yet it was so lovely in the dappled mid-afternoon light, that we just had to turn back and take another look. We all had smiles on our faces, as we walked away again. Little moments in time, spent with special people really are life’s simplest joys. As we look towards embarking on a new adventure together, it’s comforting to know that so many splendid memories will be carried with us, and as we go, remembering to relish the little moments in time, wherever we may be.
Photo by CIA, Amsterdam, August 2012.