Welcome to the Light

We have now officially tipped over to the light half of the year. All green and growing things know it, as do the birds and the farmers and gardeners.

And for this first day in which the day is longer than the night, Canterbury’s weather has decided to celebrate—clear skies and warm sunshine with a hint of a cool breeze to remind us where we’ve come from.

A bumble bee drones by as I sit on the porch eating lunch in the sunshine. A guttural croak overhead draws my eye to a white-faced heron gliding like a modern-day pterodactyl to its nest. A jumping spider lurches across the warm pavers at my feet, leaving behind a glittering silk thread that marks her passage. Flies swirl in jerky spirals, describing their micro-territories within a cloud of lekking insects.

Days like today remind me to slow down and feel the motion of the earth.

I pluck a fresh mint leaf and chew on it. The flavour brings back summer memories of Mrs Cassel’s mint tea, sipped from frosty glasses clinking with ice. 

A bellbird whistles from somewhere in the neighbourhood. Enjoying the nectar of someone’s flowering kōwhai, no doubt. I close my eyes and remember the sound of the dawn chorus in Westland National Park.

Days like today remind me that the most memorable things in life never involve the daily grind, but only happen when we step off the treadmill and into the world.

Sitting on the porch of a tramping hut while a weka tries to steal my socks.

Fording an icy river, turquoise from glacial runoff.

Watching jumping spiders’ strange semaphore dance on the windowsill.

Biting into the first tomato of summer, warm from the garden.

Following a starfish’s slow glide across the bottom of a tide pool.

Reaching the top of a mountain to find rank upon rank of peaks stretching out ahead, begging to be summited, drawing you on to new adventures.

So, welcome to the light. Step into the world and enjoy the sunshine.

The Dark Side

Near-full moon means bright evenings, but dark mornings.

Near-full moon means bright evenings, but dark mornings.

Today we tip to the dark side. Tomorrow, night will outstrip day for the first time in six months.

It seems the equinox should be momentous. Autumn should sweep in, chilly and dark, leaving summer behind.

But yesterday, the temperature reached 33 degrees (91F). Today is on track to be even warmer, and tomorrow, the same. Though darkness creeps up on us, the sun has not abandoned us yet.

Still, it is time to remember to appreciate the dark.

This morning, I milked and fed the animals in the dark, as I’ve done for the past month. But before I went back inside and turned on the lights, I paused to appreciate the night sky. The milky way slashed from northern to southern horizon, southern cross glinting in its midst. Pavo, Scorpius, and Lupus were there too—a veritable menagerie of constellations, though truth be told, I can identify only a handful of them without a star chart.

But in the still of early morning, it didn’t matter whether I could find the peacock’s tail in the sky. It was enough to look up and appreciate the vast universe, accessible to us only in the dark.