Trees as sacred – what we can learn from “Tonari no Totoro”

Totoro in treeEarlier this week, Jesse Mulligan put a call out to listeners to share stories or descriptions of their favourite tree on his Afternoons show on RNZ. Most anecdotes or descriptions that flowed in were about actual trees, but one listener identified as his or her favourite tree the one in the Japanese anime “Tonari no Totoro” (My neighbour Totoro). Jesse Mulligan was a little bemused by this, but as a Japanophile – and more specifically – a Biophilia-Japanophile (just made that one up) – I could completely understand this person’s sentiment. Continue reading

Autumn in the Pohangina Valley

Oak tree web.jpgIt was mid-autumn when we moved to our new home in the Pohangina Valley, and the valley has been ablaze with autumn colour – one of the advantages of living in a colder climate where seasons are more delineated.

This has been one of my favourite scenes: a vista from our drive, across the farmer’s paddock out to the Ruahine Range. I love the vibrant contrast of colour: the red of the solitary pin oak, the green of the pasture and bush, against the backdrop of blue-tinged mountain range.

This post was first published on www.catherineknight.nz

See also: The influence of seasons on culture and environmental perceptions; More about seasonal change (fungi)

Life changes

tree houseAbout three weeks ago my family and I made a very big life change. We moved from comfortable, convenient, leafy suburbia on the Kapiti Coast to a 7-acre block of land in rural Manawatu. This involved moving ourselves out of our 213 m2 4-bedroom, double-garaged home into a garage-less house of exactly half that size.

There is a very good reason for us doing this: it wasn’t the plan.

Continue reading

Did you know moreporks mewed?

baby morepork.jpegI woke up with the rain gurgling down the guttering at 5:30am this morning, made myself my customary morning coffee and sat down to do some work before the morning’s quiet was broken by the duvet-bearing preschooler sharing her first thoughts of the day with me. As I typed, my muted keyboard percussion was accompanied by a “mew mew mew” sound* from the lanky poplars that line our top paddock.

This curious mewing is the less well known call of the morepork (ruru) – the onomatopoeic “more-pork” call being the one we associate with them. (In fact, until only a week or so back I had no idea what creature this mystery call belonged to.) I am not sure what the mewing call means. I suppose, just like humans, owls would get bored with just saying the same thing over and over again (as a mother of young children, I can empathise completely), so perhaps it is just for variety – who knows? (Perhaps someone does – if so, please be in touch.)

 In any case, as far as morning calls go, I think this is up there with the best.

*You can listen here (on the excellent NZbirdsonline site) to the various morepork calls.

Image: Newly fledged young. Wellington, January 2009. Image © Peter Reese by Peter Reese

[Originally published on http://www.catherineknight.nz, 29 April 2017]

A little bit magic

rain dropsIt is incredible what you can find to do when you should be doing something else, like going for a run.

As I attempted to leave the house this morning for my daily bout of exercise, I paused to check the swan plants for further hatchlings (see previous monarch butterfly-related posts).

As I did so, I noticed these water droplets, remnants from an overnight shower, preserved in all their spherical perfection in a tiny web constructed by some unseen spider.

Though feeling slightly guilty about delaying my run, I couldn’t resist capturing this little bit of magic with a photo.

See also: Little wonders (of nature); Sofia and her red biro