With the rain pelting down for a second day in a row I have reached into the depths of my recent archives to cheer myself up. For when you are confronted with almost 90mm of rain in two days getting a spot of sunshine is an essential reminder that there is life outside rain. Seemingly people lower down the valley are not faring well with the liquid onslaught. The good news is that there is light shining along the path for the weekend. I fancy I’ll take a walk out with the bassets and sit a while. Or maybe not since I’ve got potato planting that’s already days behind schedule on account of this blessed rain.
Archives for September 2010
Despite reading Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz I have few cues as to what exactly my bassets think about. I do know that food is their main motivation – go near the fridge or cooker and you’ll find a basset can raise itself from a seemingly deep slumber and move at lightening speed to be at your feet. Just in case you know. Something might need picking up or even better still we might succumb to their charms and feed them. Also neck rubs are a big thing for Mason, he’ll do pretty much anything to get your attention so you’ll rub his neck so his back feet thumps like a rabbit. There is little that Mason misses though – he will watch and wait and anticipate. Here he is plotting mischief and hiding from the camera.
The change of clocks to allow for daylight saving brings a whole new perspective on life. For one thing it extends the possibilities for photography and opens up new opportunities for being outdoors. The chickens start to lay every day without hesitation and Fortnum and Mason will extend their sniff patrol hours to keep us safe at home. MT comes home from work in daylight and generally the world seems a better place for being lighter and brighter.
All I need now is some consistently good weather but I fear that that would be asking too much. Along with the winds Spring brings one good day and then a not so good day. Planning is a mugs game that can usually lead to disappointment. It’s the season to take each day as it comes, enjoy what we’ve got and have a wet and dry agenda ready to go so you can make the most of whatever the day turns out. Wet or dry I am loving the extra light and the knowledge we’ll be saving light for months to come.
At first I thought someone had tossed their wedding bouquet in a tree. It was only on closer inspection did I realise that it was in fact clematis blooming in the wild. It seemed strange and out of place for the vast native bush but it brought a touch of class and colour to the otherwise monotone of green. But there was no time for lingering to look at flowers Fortnum and Mason were on a mission to sniff and run. For this was the first time in a week that we’ve been out walking together. Fortnum has been confined to home whilst his seemingly reoccuring shoulder strain has returned. It’s one of the downsides of being a dwarf dog – still big dog build on small legs. Hardly surprising that his shock absorber system takes a battering. And, he’s an older dog now – the bassets had their birthday last Friday. They turned 3 which in basset life makes them finally adults. Not that you’d notice!
Even when I was at school I was never one for going to town on a Saturday to shop. I’d more likely to be found at a horse riding lesson or mucking about in the sandpit practising my long jump technique (no, really – I was a Schools national champion U15 back in the stone age). Or maybe hacking around a tennis court, netball court or even on occasion knee deep in mud on a lacrosse field. For those were my sporty days. Fashion, make up and hanging around was not a top priority for me.
Some things never change – fashion and make up still aren’t that important to me. At home I can take things to extreme as my husband regularly reminds me when I fall into my bag lady look. With the recent Boden collection out I admit that I have transgressed and indulged in a little wardrobe updating. To smooth away my guilt for such gross consumerism I there was nothing too flash or frilly but something a bit lighter and brighter to spruce up my mainly black and navy uniform. I shall of course be keeping these little beauties secret in my shoes. For there are some guilty secrets, however bright and fun are best kept to yourself.
Defying all my gloomy predictions for the weekend today has been simply blooming marvellous. Clear skies, bright sunshine and a hint of wind. Enough to break out the wheelbarrow and crack on. The plan for today was to get our fruit garden up and running – again.
Our new order of soft fruit bushes came from The Edible Garden destined for the Kitchen garden. We’ve now got two beds full of potential fresh fruit heaven. For those with a keen interest – gooseberries x 3, blueberries x3, raspberries x 3, blackberries x2, worcesterberries x1, Bosenberry x1, redcurrants x1 and strawberries x6. We’ve moved the bushes we planted previously and I now have more hope that they’ll produce fruit. We’ve also added a Bramley Apple tree to the orchard with a Mulberry Tree and Feojia yet to come. Planting an orchard is long term game. Each year the trees get stronger but it’s going to be a long while before we really see much of a crop.
In the hope for greater vegetable varieties after a plethora of root vegetables I’ve planted out carrots, beetroot and kolhrabi in the garden and seeds are sprouting in the barn for a wealth of other goodies. I’m aiming for a wide variety in smaller volumes rather than vast quantities just because we have the space to do so.
Lots still to do – early spuds and other root vegetables to go in tomorrow. I am also gearing up to feed the small potager patch by the back door with a heap of compost in an attempt to improve the potential to grow leaves and salad stuffs. It is growing wonderful grass right now!
Given the haphazard approach to my Spring garden it’s been a relief to see the tulips rearing their heads this year. Their splash of colour has been a distraction though as I sprint from the house to the barn getting caught in the howling wind and rain.
But this is Spring in Wellington and there’s no point wishing it would be something else. Our exposed location in the world means that Spring means wind and lots of it. The Windy Wellington experience comes from the natural funnelling effect of Cook Strait, the stretch of ocean water that separates the North and South Islands. That funnel sends the winds up the valley and onto my backyard.
I have a friend who hibernates during the windy season. She hates it so much that she’ll move away to retire to escape once and for all. I can understand why – battling outdoors just to get around can be a tiring experience. It’s hellish on the bassets who spend their time getting smacked in the face with their billowing ears.
I take the view you can either reject or try to deny the weather or you can embrace it as another of nature’s wonders. I can go either way depending on whether I am chasing the washing blown off the line across our acres.
For all it’s natural beauty – wind and all – coming to live in New Zealand to find a better climate is false hope. This is a country of extremes and diversity. You can take your pick of tropical, arctic or temperature climes. Or you can move around the country and experience them all. But as my husband reminds me regularly as I wish for a balmy mediteranean evening is that New Zealand is a cold country with a hot sun.
I won’t deny that summer is my favourite season but I can take pretty much any season as long as there is sun. And a hot New Zealand sun any time of year is the boost I need to keep my senses alive. Perhaps I’m just a walking solar panel and need those bright spots to keep energised.
That and a splash of tulip colour.
Seeing the snow capped Rimutakas reminds me that we’ve still a long way till we are really into Spring up here in the Hutt Valley. You can be lulled into a false sense of security with blue skies and warmer temperatures that suggest the onset of better weather. Here in our Valley the micro climate is a little more unpredictable – Spring seems to arrive on time but you can’t rely on it for some weeks to come. Certainly no rushing out to plant out your seedlings.
This year’s vegetable seeds were sown in the barn under the skylight last weekend. When I build some legs for my potting bench I’ll be upping the ante with flowers for the companion planting, sweet peas and other colourful delights. But not till those mountains rid of their snow hats and we can be sure that the frosts are passed.
Today I was rugged up with winter coat, gloves and swaddled in a scarf battling against the gale and wintry sleet. It was not a day I wanted to venture off the veranda let alone have to hack into town. As well as work appointments I had a coffee date with a new acquaintance I didn’t want to miss. Much to my surprise the closer I got to town the brighter things became and by the time I parked up and started walking to my first appointment I was bitterly regretting the boots, thick tights, double layers and winter coat. For in Wellington it was breezy and bright. Not bright enough to abandon all my winter gear but enough to make me stand out from the crowds as someone from colder climes.
After a day of toing and froing to appointments it was a relief to sit down for a breather. To catch up with a person I’ve only met once before, a friend of a friend. Moving to a new country and becoming self employed means that meeting new people is an important part of making your way in your new world. I’ve come to enjoy blind dating for friends and clients as the word of mouth referrals tend to be sound and I find myself meeting more and people who I have things in common. Today was one of those days – not only have I found a new prospective collaborator for work but she’s also an avid photographer. I can see us becoming the ultimate two of a kind.
I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. But yes, the sun has been shining today. I was so happy I could have burst into song but that would have only started the bassets with their howling routine. There may have been a bitterly southerly wind but I didn’t care – the sun was out today and that made me feel very happy. For once the irises didn’t look bedraggled but opening their petals to show their true colours off.