Seeking quiet inspiration in the forest

On another of these sweltering hot days, what better thing to do than seek respite in the coolness of the forest. (Well, apart from finding a shady spot beside a large body of water, that is.) Caitlyn and I chose to go for a forest wander this afternoon, followed – it has to be said – by a river dip.

We enjoyed looking at the natural mosaics on the forest floor, and while we were examining one, Caitlyn spotted this tail-less skink! On our way back from the walk the skink was still there, so we sat down on a rock nearby and ‘watched his stillness’, as Caitlyn put it. He didn’t seem to mind our company, either.

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Nature & wellbeing in NZ – case study ideas please

nature_and_wellbeingAs you may have seen from an earlier post Can you help? The connection between nature & wellbeing  I am interested in exploring the connection between nature and wellbeing as the subject of my next book. In that earlier post, I asked for help finding existing literature on the topic, particularly in the New Zealand context. And I got some super-helpful responses, so thank you so much to everyone who responded! Continue reading

Treasuring our gully ecosystems

gullyDo other countries have ‘gullies’? – I am not sure. The dictionary tells me they are also known as ‘small valleys’ and ‘ravines’. ‘Valley’, even of the diminutive kind, seems a bit too bucoIic to me, while ‘ravine’ sounds way too treacherous (though in fairness, some gullies are pretty precipitous). Continue reading

The waterfall of Waterfall Road & other treasures

Waterfall of Waterfall Road, Kapiti.
Waterfall of Waterfall Road, Kapiti.

Longtime envirohistory NZ followers might remember how my husband and I stumbled upon the international phenomenon of geocaching entirely by accident (see Hidden treasure at Otaki Gorge). Geocaching involves searching for caches that have been hidden by members of the worldwide geocaching community, using GPS coordinates and other clues. Continue reading

Sofia and her red biro

Sofia and biro
The beautiful Sofia, stretching her wings on the red biro from which she was suspended. She was transferred to this Asian maple tree on the morning of her emergence after the chrysalis became noticeably darker.

Well, readers will be pleased to know that Sofia emerged from her chrysalis, “small but perfectly formed”, right on cue – ten days after she disappeared into her chrysalis (see: Little wonders (of nature) and Nature’s capacity to surprise). Continue reading

Nature’s capacity to surprise

IMG_3729Since my last post, Little wonders (of nature), I have become even more convinced of nature’s amazing capacity to enrapture and surprise. But, this story begins with sadness. Only a day after writing the last post, our household was visited by misfortune. My son misguidedly picked up the now rather plump Sofia, obviously deciding that she needed some more “contact” time. I sternly advised against doing this again, and taking Sofia, carefully returned her to a leaf. However, she remained in a curled-up position, and kept on falling off the leaf. I returned her to a leaf a couple of times before giving up, and carefully placed her on the soil in the pot, where I thought she would at least not incur any injury from further falls. My hope was that she would recover, and climb back up the plant to resume munching. Continue reading

Little wonders (of nature)

IMG_3685This was going to be a story about the introduction of a small exotic species by European settlers to New Zealand, and the possible motivations for it (since this species provides no economic benefits, as a honey bee or a sheep does, for example). However, somewhat inconveniently, I have been thwarted from doing so – by the facts!

The little creature I am talking about is the monarch butterfly (kahuku in Maori), which apparently reached New Zealand shores – not by human hand – but of its own accord, about 100 years ago. This is tremendous achievement given its size, and the distance from its native homeland, North America. Continue reading

Bush adventures in Hokowhitu

In her 1954 reminiscences of pioneering life in the Manawatu town of Palmerston North, Charlotte Warburton writes about childhood adventures in the bush in the Hokowhitu area, adjoining the Manawatu River.

I grew up in Hokowhitu in the 1970s, not far from the River, but by then there was little sign that anything but the exotic had ever thrived there. Continue reading

Nature study in NZ: a teacher’s reflections on historical approaches

In a recent issue of Education Today, Bill Clarkson, a veteran teacher and environmental educator, wrote about nature study in New Zealand and reviewed some of the pioneering literature which influenced how nature study was taught in New Zealand. These books include “New Zealand Nature Study” by W. Martin (1947) and “Nature Study: handbook for teachers”, by D. Beggs (1966). [Click here to read the full article.] Continue reading

The spoonbills are back! Mixing homes with nature

Continuing with the theme explored in the previous post, the role of semi-managed nature in supporting biodiversity, this post explores how land development can sometimes lead to the enhancement – rather than the degradation – of an environment’s ability to support biodiversity. Continue reading