Does anybody else feel they are living life day by day, waiting to see what else life will throw at us? Oh, most of you? I thought so. As I heard somebody on the radio saying yesterday, the pandemic has hit pretty much every corner of the world and it ain’t over yet. Add in the invasion of Ukraine, the very real threat of a nuclear war in Europe, the appalling flooding in northern New South Wales and it makes our experience with Cyclone Dovi seem minor.
I have to focus on the little things in my immediate physical world to keep me sane. Meet our little kingfisher or kōtare. Zach found it on the ground on Tuesday and it had clearly fallen out of its nest-hole high, high above in the Phoenix palm. Zach named it Queenie but told me the next morning it had changed to Beaky. I can only assume that these are pop culture references which I am too old to understand.
For such a small creature, Beaky had a very loud voice and on Wednesday, it spent a lot of time calling to its whanau (family) above. At times the mother would reply so she knew where it was and we hoped she was feeding it.
Thursday – no sign. No bird. No noise. I hoped Beaky had not been taken by a feral cat or stoat. Zach bravely declared that he was sure the tail feathers must have grown sufficiently for Beaky to fly but I had my doubts. Zach was right.
On Friday, the sound of loud kingfisher squawks drew me back to the area where I saw a little kingfisher perched in an adjacent tree. As I watched, it flew over to the Phoenix palm and then back before flying a little more confidently further afield. Was it Beaky? It is a bit hard to tell when it is up in a tree but it was a baby kōtare, clearly new to flying and managing to make a great deal of noise so I think it was likely to be Beaky who may just be the noisiest, small kōtare of all time. I hope it was.
On the cyclone clean-up front, we have made good progress. In a difficult operation, the arborist dropped what remained standing of the giant gum tree at our gate, removing also the broken branches – called swingers – caught up in an adjacent tree and in danger of falling onto passing cars. This involved getting in a large truck with a hiab to lift down sections safely but also meant that they could stand the base of the main trunk upright again which is way more pleasing visually. I got out the tape measure – it is about 2 metres across near the base so that is a pretty huge chunk of timber to fall.
The main damage in the Avenue Gardens has been cleared. It remains to be seen how much of the herbaceous underplanting returns in spring. The whole area was densely planted and lush until three weeks ago. I am hoping Mark is thinking his way into deciding what we can replant for the middle layer of shrubs and small trees that were taken out. That is his area of expertise.
Because so much of the material was mulched on site, we have used some of that fresh woodchip to cushion the paths, which gives a nice, soft surface to walk on. We still have a small mountain of mulch left but it was important to get the big piles off the garden before they heated up more and cooked the herbaceous material beneath.
More autumn bulbs are opening every day. While I love the bulbs in the rockery – all the Cyclamen hederafolium, Rhodophiala bifida, Haemanthus coccineus, Leucojum autumnale, Moraea polystachya, sternbergia, Colchicum autumnale and the first of the nerines amongst others – there is something particularly engaging about the brave cyclamen and colchicums flowering in wilder conditions in the long grass in the park.
There is a resilience and an element of surprise with bulbs that will naturalise in more challenging conditions.