Thursday, February 13, 2014

Yatras for this year

When the weather settles down, I'll lead the first of the Blue Mountains yatras for 2014. My vision for this year is to lead both yatras four times a year, so that there is some continuity of walking practise if you would like it. I will lead the easy yatra on Saturdays, and the middlin' yatra on Sundays. Emboldened 'easy' yatrees can then tackle Sunday if they want to. 

The dates are:

EASY                                                 MIDDLIN'

Saturday March 29                          Sunday 30 Mar ( leaves falling)

Saturday June 14                             Sunday 15 Ju (mountain devils)

Saturday August 30                         Sunday 31 Aug ( wattle bloom) 

Saturday Oct. 11 (if no trackwork)     Sunday 12 October ( boronia)


Something from 2012...
Her farts are precious - 
the old dog
back from surgery 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Christmas in New Zealand


Christmas is the time to be with family, have a holiday, and go to the beach. I went “across the ditch” to New Zealand where the weather is cooler and less dramatically changeable. Last year the entire North Island was drought-stricken…unusual.  But when I went north of Auckland to Whangarei, it had recovered its usual green. I was driven through my grandmother’s country, and then through her grandmother’s country, Kaukapakapa. My great-great, Flora McLeod, had been born in Nova Scotia but then sailed to Waipu Cove with her family, to settle there.

I stayed with friends at Whangarei Heads. One day we climbed Mt. Manaia.

Old volcano cones
ice-cream of native bush
a sprinkling of walkers

A cloud of McLeods settled in the area, and from the top, Waipu was just visible in the distance.

 I walked on my native soil very aware that in another era I would have been part of that clan. My uncle from that side of the family had worked on the Marsden oil refinery opposite, as a fitter. 

One day P. and I kayaked around the foreshore. Manaia! In Samoan it means “beautiful, lovely”, and I used it a lot when I travelled to Western Samoa years ago.

Seaweed trails up
from the emerald depths –
I drift along

 The water of Whangarei harbour is clear, clean and judging by the number of shags who fish there, alive.

The shag-engineer
draws a straight flight
just above the waves

 A group of these black and white cormorants sat up in an ancient pohutakawa tree on the shoreline and overhanging the water, but one appeared to swing in the breeze. Paddling closer we saw that it was dead, and hanging by its neck from transparent fishing line. I suppose when they dive down into the sea they sometimes encounter the leftovers of clumsy human efforts to catch fish.  Another secluded spot was alive with birds, oystercatchers nesting on top of a rock that was surrounded by water, and another pohutakawa dense with shags. They were quite unconcerned by another shag corpse, stuck to its perch in their midst. 


I had some most beautiful swims in surf, in harbours, in clear water, in murky water (are there sharks down below?), in the morning, in the evening, at high tide, at no-particular-tide, to a yacht, around a buoy, shoes on, bare feet, don’t–put-your-feet-down, swam past weed, anchor-rope…saw the mist on the hills around Kawhia harbour rise and the colours change, each time I turned my neck to breathe. 


Pony club
the excluded horse
gallops along the fence

 A senryu:

 House for sale
four cars sleeping it off
in the front yard

Auckland museum -
the rain blots out my decades