Category Archives: The World Around Us

The Tree

My escape lay at the bottom of the garden. A concrete path, narrow as the wheels of my trike, led through the vegetable patch to this Eden. Here I would pedal whenever I was sad, or happy.

The tree beckoned in spring with white petals and pink flowers, tinged with yellow, like miniature stars twinkling in the sun. I would stare, mesmerised by the humming of bees seeking their nectar.

The years passed, and, like the tree, I grew. Old enough to climb the tree that had been my haven for so long. Shinning up the trunk, I perched on the silvery branches, observing the house on the horizon. At the right time of year, when the blossoms had matured into fruit, I picked an apple, or two, savouring the still-bitter taste.

The taller I grew, the smaller the tree seemed to become, and the less important it was for me to climb it. But I always visited its umbrella, protecting me from the sun, pacifying me with the gentle swish of its leaves. I think of this tree even now when I’m stressed, and even now find peace in its memory.

Perceptions of the Centre of New Zealand

What did I see that others did not? What did others see that I did not? And even if we saw the same thing, did we perceive it the same way? I would try to observe through the eyes of a visitor.

Almost immediately, I found myself wallowing in the comfort and safety of the small New Zealand town, crossing well-surfaced roads devoid of the impenetrable smog of overseas cities. Well-tended gardens lent colour to the otherwise uninspiring natural palette. Were humans to blame for the lack of wildflowers and the splendour of pohutukawa?

The  clement breeze bathed me in the fragrance of cut grass as I marched purposefully across the Botanical Reserve to climb the 143-metre landmark.

Transitory perceptions were quickly erased by the imprint of the mighty palm trees enticing, like Sirens, those seeking the track.

I thought of children as my eyes magnetically followed the receding safety rail, its moss-laden timbers the size of Scottish cabers; and smiled as I imagined my son, climbing over.

I thought of what I didn’t see, and how I’d like more benches.

I thought I was thinking too much, and stopped.

Landslips were evident, but cultivated nikau and kanuka discreetly planted fought to bind the soil. The entanglement of branches testified to the wrath of the wind. How rewarding it was to be miniaturised by Nature, yet within walking distance of home.

Grey soil, yellow soil, gravel and gullies, the track meandered on, and with it my musings. Piqued by curiosity, I examined a horse trough. No horses here, yet maybe there’d been some?

Meadows and pastures conjured pictures of England. My reverie was short, though, with the bang-clang of cranes at the port in the distance.

Wagtails, like ballerinas, fluttered and danced, but it was the humble sparrow whose voice prevailed. Do cicadas have voices? Their scratching was deafening. A sure sign of summer; I wasn’t complaining.

Soon at the summit: the soothing satisfaction of something achieved – I could see over Nelson, the Bay and beyond. I thought of my problems. What problems? From the Centre of New Zealand, my problems were dead.