Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nature Notes

Niece Jenny is staying with us at present. A touch of youthful vitality in my surroundings. We’ve been watching the tennis. Kiwi Marcus Daniell and his Rumanian partner Horia Tecau have just won the men’s double’s title. Lovely sunshine in Auckland. Here, it’s a pig of a southerly storm, strong, strong winds and pelting rain and on 15 degrees. The only good thing, the ground was very dry before this soaking.

Yesterday, before the storm arrived I was admiring a white convolulus growing to the very tip of the neighbour’s snowball tree. I know it’s a weed and should be eradicated but it looked so fragile and brave swaying in the breeze that I found myself admiring it.

Outside my study window another neighbour’s koromiko tree is bursting into flower. It’s our most common of the very large grouping of New Zealand hebe a shrub which hybridises very easily. Other hebes are found in South America, Australia and New Ginuea. This is the largest individual hebe I’ve ever seen. Last summer when it was in full flower it was alive with bees. It’s not bee weather today. Maori used the koromiko leaves as a treatment for diarrhea.

Also outside my study window a blackbird is nesting in a camellia tree, the same tree that had a thrush’s nest earlier this year. It’s a relatively cat-proof tree.

Apart from that blackbird and the two faithful little wax-eyes in the abutilon there is no bird life on the section today. I don’t know where the sparrows ride out the storm, Monday’s Dominion paper had a piece about their over-nighting in the city. I knew starlings did this, they had a few central roosting pads. Apparently sparrows do too. What journeys these little creatures make.

Even more amazing is the godwit. Today’s paper had research from Alaska. After the mind-boggling flight from New Zealand to either Alaska or Siberia the godwits seek more northern nesting sites to avoid predators like minks and cranes. Amazing!

Along the nature theme and is light of my recent dialogue about youth and age I came across this poem when dipping into Yeats this morning. .

The Coming Of Wisdom With Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

William Butler Yeats

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