Tag Archives: Christchurch

The Colour of Spring

In my mind’s eye the colour of spring is tender:  pink and white and violet, and dimpled daffodil yellow; diaphanous blue; soft, lush green; all steeped in  warm, lemon honey sunshine.  But that is not often the reality of spring,  particularly  in Christchurch where, in September, the average sunshine hours per day number 5.5.

No, the colour of spring is more nuanced than my mind’s eye would have it. It is frequently overcast with grey,

Spring Grey

Spring Grey

and dim drizzle,  (skip to the end of the video if you  are interested in the cherry blossom)

and shaded skies.

Spring under shaded sky

Spring under shaded sky

But for all that  my spring is not mental picture-perfect, I still love it. And I will take it any way it comes.

I love spring however it is served.

I love spring however it is served;  but I don’t eat daffodils ~ they’re poisonous ~ just saying ;).

 

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12.51 ~Holding On

12.51 pm ~

that dreadful moment, 4 years ago, today, that ripped apart what was left of our quaint, quiet world.

I am remembering it.

My heart doesn’t want to anymore, but my brain and my body  insist.  12.51, and all the other moments, beginning Sept 4, 2010, are imprinted on my being ~ indelibly. They have leached to my very core. Part of who I am and what I will be, forever.

Four years on and I still stiffen at any unexpected movement in the house, even if it’s only the wind, or a shake caused by a truck rumbling  on the road.   I startle easily. And, then, there are those moments that come, out of the blue, and screech through my head for an intense few seconds, saying, ” Is it going to happen again, NOW?  Is it, is it? What will I do? What will I do? Will I make it? How will I hold on? Can I hold on? ”  I am standing again in the bathroom doorway, holding on to frame and fear. Indescribable fear.

Then it’s over. I survive, and move on. Slowly. On shaky legs.

I set the table, in some trepidation, with my great-grandmother’s china. (Please no shakes, please no shakes.) I remind myself it has survived more than a 100 years. It is chipped, cracked and crazed, but its beauty and value remains.

A friend brings apples.

What would my Bramley ancestors make of these apples http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravenstein in her serving dish?

What would my Bramley ancestor make of these  apples in her serving dish?

 

She has gathered them from an abandoned, earthquake-damaged property in her neighborhood. She calls them gravestone apples. I like that. They are, in a way. The property on which they grow is like a forlorn graveyard.

I eat the apples. I bake them. They are given new life, new form.

Crostatahttp://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/apple-crostata-recipe.html meets Chintz, Felicity, Vermont and Williamsburg

Crostata meets Chintz, Felicity, Vermont and Williamsburg at my table.

 

I bake bread, to share.

Bread to share

Bread to share

I want to feast on life, not fear.

Join me. Take a slice,

Take a slice

Take a slice

a spoon, a fork, “dig in”.

For keeps from Kerry. :) featuring Community Plate (Coronation) from my mother's cutlery set.http://www.rubylane.com/item/362270-1936CO-set-modgrille/Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION-Art-Deco

For keeps from Kerry. :), featuring Community Plate (Coronation) from my mother’s cutlery set. The tiny teaspoons belonged to my paternal great-grandmother Alice. http://www.rubylane.com/item/362270-1936CO-set-modgrille/Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION-Art-Deco

Something to ponder as you digest :

The china used in this post is a metaphor for continuity. The  Flow Blue  semi porcelain plates which belonged to my maternal great-grandmother were produced about 1912. The pattern is Vermont. They were made in England by Burgess and Leigh. The small blue plates, which I purchased just prior to the earthquakes, are also Burgess and Leigh. They are made in the same way and in the same factory as the Vermont china was all those years ago. One pattern is Felicity, the other is Chintz. Felicity is a small, delicate flower pattern reminiscent of elder flowers in a gentle pale blue originating from the 1930s. Burgess Chintz is a delicate blue chintz  pattern dating from the early 1900s, derived from the wild geranium. How any of this china survived the shaking, I will never know.

 

© silkannthreades

Speechless, almost

This morning there were two emails in my Inbox which left me speechless, (almost).  The first one left me speechless with sorrow at the darkness in people’s lives;  the second left me speechless with joy (and  tears). It reaffirmed my faith in the goodness that resides in our hearts. It reminded me that we do not need to be overcome by evil;  there is goodness  aplenty in this world, and there is more than enough for all of us, if we dare to share it around.

So, come share some of the goodness of this day, with me.

First the email, bringing good news from dear Lucy at Visual Fling

I have been working on another picture, just for you. This painting, “Memories of Before her Time”, is a commemorative based on your posts about the earthquake on September 4th.
 
I meant for this painting to recall your ‘white stones’ clematis pictures, and the white flowers in your hair, but also the little girl symbolizes new life after the loss and teaching the young to honor the past.
I hope you like it.
Blessings,
Lucy

 

The painting; the gift of healing goodness.

Little one with Clematis; a gift of goodness from Lucy at Visual Fling http://visualfling.com/2014/09/04/memories-from-before-her-time/#comments

Little one with Clematis; a gift of goodness from Lucy at Visual Fling http://visualfling.com/2014/09/04/memories-from-before-her-time/#comments

 The Clematis, the powerful goodness of a flower that inspired us.

Clematis inspiration

Clematis inspiration

I am blessed.

Thank you, Lucy, from the bottom of the heart of one who is now,

Power of the flower

Power of the flower

and will always be that little girl with a flower in her hair, and a belief that goodness is nine-tenths of the world.

Looking forward; Gallivanta circa 1958-59

Looking forward; Gallivanta circa 1958-59

The copyright of the painting belongs to LucyJartz.  Please  help me thank Lucy for her  kindness and generosity by visiting her blog  Visual Fling for a clearer view of the commemorative painting.

© silkannthreades

Special for Steve

Steve Schwartzman showed us a bluebell gentian bud, in north-east Austin, Texas, which prompted me to check out our bluebells in Little Hagley Park, today, September 9th. Our bluebells, hyacinthoides non-scripta, or English bluebells, are completely different from Steve’s, but it is fun to compare not only the bluebells but the quality of the photos. Steve’s photos  are, of course, the ones that are infinitely superior to mine. 🙂  But I try, and I did get down on my knees to take some of these photos, so I guess I can say I am attempting to follow in Steve’s kneesteps.

. Across the road in Little Hagley, carpets of bluebells ( Hyacinthoides non-scripta ) bloom where Māori traders camped in the early days of the settlemehttp://resources.ccc.govt.nz/files/CityLeisure/parkswalkways/christchurchbotanicgardens/BotanicGardensWalkingGuide.pdf

‘Across the road in Little Hagley, carpets of bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) bloom
where Māori traders camped in the early days of the settlement.’ http://resources.ccc.govt.nz/files/CityLeisure/parkswalkways/christchurchbotanicgardens/BotanicGardensWalkingGuide.pdf

 

© silkannthreades

O bright day, marked with a still whiter stone!*

My daughter, who rivals Wikipedia in the breadth of her encyclopedic knowledge of random facts, tells me that ye olde Romans would mark fortunate days on a calendar with a white stone.  I like that.

Today, 4th September, is the anniversary of a fortunate day in my life. I have no white stones. I am not Roman ( in case you are wondering 😉 ). But I do have some lovely white markers to place on this day.

This is what is going on my calendar:

a marker to represent my land;

Up the Gorge

Up the Gorge

a marker for my neighbourhood;

In my street

In my street: a clematis paniculata; possibly a hybrid.

 

a marker to celebrate my garden;

Michelia in my garden

Michelia in my garden

and a marker to honour my home.

My home; the centre of my life.

My home; the centre of my life.

Can you guess why this date is a white-stone one for me? If not, tune in to my next post. 🙂

Whilst I am remembering a fortunate day, I must also pause and remember another  4th September, four years ago. It dawned an impossibly beautiful, blue-sky, spring day, but but it was black, black, black, and the Romans would, quite rightly, have suggested a black stone for the calendar.

Pebbles:

A big thank you to my brother for the first photo taken in the Rakaia Gorge.

An equally big thank you to my daughter for her translation of Catullus*

 

© silkannthreades

The land that claims us

I’ve been gallivanting; travelling across the Plains, from north to south and back again. I went to Timaru, a port city about 162km from Christchurch. I haven’t been that way in more than 3 years. It’s not very far, in terms of time or distance, but the earthquakes and their aftermath had somehow imprisoned me within the confines of my own city.

Last Thursday I broke free, and, in my trusty little Toyota Echo, I traced the old, familiar route across the wide open spaces; the fields to left and right, the snow topped mountains ever westward, the endless blue of sky above; the rivers big and little and, all along the wayside, the litany of names, the signs of our settlement, our marks upon the land….Templeton, Rolleston, Burnham, Northwood, Bankside, Rakaia, Chertsey, Ashburton, Tinwald, Hinds, Rangitata, Orari, Temuka and so many more…until I met the rolling hills that end the Plains, and the city that sits upon their folds; my destination,  Timaru.

View from Timaru

View from Timaru

Timaru is one of my homes away from home,

Home away from Home

Home away from Home; a place of shelter

mainly because my uncle and his family have lived there for  many years and are always ready to offer generous hospitality to me and my loved ones. Recently I  discovered another reason to feel bonded to Timaru. It was the initial place of residence for the Scottish side of my family when they came to New Zealand in the mid 1870s. It was also the site of our first birthing in New Zealand; from the paternal side  of the family tree, that is. A momentous occasion, perhaps, that first birthing, or, more realistically, just another fact of life for a busy settler-wife to contend with.  Whatever the case, young James arrived in the land of his parents’ choice, on 26 June 1877, followed, not long after, by his twin brother, Joseph.

Years later, a cemetery entry, which is probably that of my great-uncle, records James as a native of Scotland, despite being born and having spent most of his  life in New Zealand.

And, therein, lies the rub; which land claims us? The one we are born to, the one we live in, the one we die in, the one we feel is home, that we feel in our heart, the one we left behind, the one we long for, the one we choose, or don’t choose, the one that loves and protects us, or the one that legally bind us? Or the one that refuses to let us go?

My son, through circumstances entirely outside his control, was born in the US. His birthplace was happenstance; his first landfall, like that of his great great uncle, was an accident of birth. For the greater part of his life he has lived in New Zealand; considers himself a New Zealander and holds, and chooses to hold, New Zealand citizenship. Yet, like a dog unwilling to relinquish its bone, America, the land of his birth, holds on to him, and millions of others like him, whose only wish is to live freely, quietly and privately in the country of their own choice. America  does this via the appalling effrontery of  FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act which compels governments worldwide to hand over, to the IRS, the personal financial information of anyone (or institution) with  Born in America  next to their name. Supposedly this measure is aimed at  preventing losses to the US economy  through tax evasion.  Perhaps it will,  but does catching the tax cheats really require the Government of America to force minion foreign Governments  to trawl the electronic trail of the US diaspora for wicked tax evaders and, in the  dragnet-process,  mangle  the innocents abroad and the accidental Americans?

My ancestors  traversed thousands of miles of unruly ocean to reach New Zealand. They wanted to escape the restrictions of old societies and economies. They came looking for newer, better ways to live. Most people who settled in the US travelled long, arduous routes to get there, too.  They wanted to be free of old ways, old tyrannies, old politics.  When I look at power-mongering acts like FATCA, I wonder if any of us have travelled very far at all.

Which land claims you?

Which land claims you?

© silkannthreades

 

 

Living on the ‘plains’.

Occasionally, I revel in the ‘plains’ of life.

Plain cake

Plain Cake

Plain Cake

plain yogurt in a plain pot

plain words

Canterbury

On this great plain the eye
Sees less of land than sky,
And men seem to inhabit here
As much the cloud-crossed hemisphere
As the flat earth.  ……..

Basil Dowling

‘plains’ that sustain us;

Canterbury Plains

Canterbury Plains

that form the staff of life.

Plain yogurt bread

Plain yogurt bread

How good are the ‘plains’.  🙂

Plain song
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© silkannthreades