In January I made a point of sleeping in the Skudder House, not in any of my old bedrooms, but for the first time in the house in thirty years. The room I did sleep and breakfast in is flooded with sunlight all morning. A few years ago the Google Maps image for this address showed my mother sitting in her chair in the sun, just an obscure internal shape to any other viewer, but familiar and dear to me.
After the demolition of the Farmers building in Rangiora, the waste ground came alive, at first a sea of green, and then a vast crop of waist-high fat hen. Because Rangiora is historically a farming town, and fat hen is a weed of crop and pasture land, there were some vitriolic letters to the editor about it being allowed to flourish. 'Spray it' was the cry. All credit to the project manager who didn't. This land had last been open to the elements in 1918. Historic fat hen indeed.
What with the limitations of arthritis and other foot conditions, I haven't danced as much this year as I would have liked. But I did join a sewing bee in June to make a set of tatter coats for the Tussock Jumpers Morris Dancers. We gathered in Michelle's sun drenched house overlooking the city and in spite of keeping our mind on the job of sewing narrow fabric strips, in rows, onto base coats, had a good time together.
Kitty and I visited another favourite city of ours in June. We lived in Wellington for two years when she was little; we visit regularly; we have friends who live nearby; but we had never quite got around to seeing Katherine Mansfield's Birthplace. Kitty reads and has an appreciation of KM's writing so with that awareness she was ready for this visit. The entry fee was very modest and the house is lovingly presented; a poignant introduction to the writer's difficult but talented life.
I look at this photo and think, Is that really my garden? I took it following a prolonged hail fall. Maybe because it was winter the hail didn't pass quickly and violently as it does in the summer. It 'rained' gently for about ten minutes leaving a thick layer of fine ice highlighting the contours of the land.
During another trip away, to join Morris friends in Nelson, I rejoined Judy afterwards at her home in Queen Charlotte Sound, in Marlborough. Here she is on her beach deck! She and her husband John operate a delightful B and B or Homestay. Here is the link http://www.journeysend.co.nz/
In September, the Skudder House had visitors. Ernie Skudder, who I have met before in Rotorua, brought family with him to see the house for the first time. His daughter, Bev, is the great, great granddaughter of Thomas and Hannah Skudder who built this house. How strange that she opened my eyes to something I'd never noticed before: afternoon light coming through a window beyond this one and flooding this room. Bev is a photographer too. I wonder how her photos turned out.
Although the new Ashley, Cones Rd bridge was opened in March the old one wasn't demolished until October - pretty spectacular and in spite of its scale, done in a methodical and orderly way. This area is also a rare bird nesting site, and all the bridge work over the past two years has been done with strict limitations on the field of operation.
Recently I wrote about an old riverside kowhai tree that hadn't yet flowered, but it did: about three weeks later than usual. I got back with my camera when the seed pods had begun to form. Those long silky filaments will eventually fatten into the shape of the old pods, still showing on this tree.
And what better way to finish the year than with a family picnic down beside the River. Yes it's the middle of summer and there are a lot of scarves and warm jackets! My brother, Hugh, took this photo. His daughters, Livvy and Jess are second in on both sides of the table, next to Kitty and me. At the far end are my sister Ingrid and her son, Rowan. Her daughter, Alys is forward of her sitting opposite Bryony. We had a good ramble afterwards, and promised each that we should do this more often!
Fat hen Chenopodium album
Kowhai Sophora microphylla