From the Ground Up

Blackbird at bird table

Come winter come the birds. Mostly squadrons of moss-green waxeyes. This year Mrs Blackbird has been keeping them at bay, commandeering the table and daring any little waxeyes to advance. However, safety in numbers wins out and by sheer numbers, the smaller birds make sure they get their share of the sugar water and the suet and oatmeal mix. I’m sure there’s a moral there. And probably more than one.

I got Joni Mitchell’s book for my birthday. Love it.

Despite the snow on the hills around here, there are signs of Spring. Looking up from the clothesline the other day I noticed plum blossom on a branch overhead. The green spear points of daffodils can be seen pointing skyward as they rocket (slowly) up from the brown earth, emerging from the ground up.

Stones from early Aotearoa, shaped by the Maaori. Otago Museum.
The effectiveness of carving and paua-shell eyes

Grandkids staying recently may have taken up all my time – from which I am quite possibly still recovering. But the benefits of activity cannot be denied.

Part of this activity was a visit to the museum. While Robert (Grandpa) took them to Discovery World, I (Grandma) wandered around the exhibits in the Maaori part of the museum. As always, the sacredness and reverence, peace and weighty atmosphere, not failing to make an impression as I slowly took in some of what is there to explore.

Really, I just touched the surface. I vowed I’d come back when grandkids aren’t in tow. I want to arm myself with paper and pen – I know, so old fashioned! – and make notes. There is so much to see and savour in this wonderful museum. So many impressions and threads to follow. Sub-conscious and conscious.

Pounamu fish hook pendant

Was (perhaps unaccountably) delighted to learn the other day via a video call that one of our granddaughters loves collecting stones. This is a seemingly a deep-seated trait making its appearance in the next generation. (Another granddaughter also likes to pick up and collect stones). Is there a collector gene? I can’t claim it all comes from my family though – some of the in laws also definitely have this bent. Like attracts like …?

Delighted to receive a box of paperbacks from Amazon. I found the box on the doorstep and opened it immediately, even before removing my jacket. Craggan Dhu is Gaelic for Black Rock. I sense a theme.
My granddaughter taking a quick peek as well. I hope the portion she glimpsed didn’t include any of the R16 content.

As I write at a small desk by a window, I look out and see two pigs, a sheep and a small tabby on a tile roof.

We are staying the weekend in a farmhouse B&B in limestone country. Around here, evidence of this land once (billions of once-upon-a-times ago) being under the ocean abounds – for example, the limestone quarries. There’s even a whale fossil stationed in a special custom-built perspex information booth farther up the road.

Very LS Lowery I always think when I spot this gas works museum, South Dunedin. For this photo, I caught it in morning sunlight. A rare thing for me! The photo was taken from the Countdown supermarket car park.

Often when I write a blog, I have no idea what I am going to write about.

I make a start, using whatever from the smogasbord of images I have selected and before I know it – voila – the theme and ideas emerge from what was previously a mist of unknowing. From subterranean streams of consciousness, islands of thought.

Life is full of threads – themes and motifs there for the choosing; there for the weaving; there for whatever pattern begins to emerge. I wonder if you can already spot a theme in this particular post?

It’s an organic process. As I write here today in this century-old, two storied farmhouse, sporadic sounds filter into my consciousness – the crows of a restive rooster, the burble of a turkey, the grunt of pigs under the bare and twisted branches of winter willows … in the hills and dips, lies an *upturned blueprint of what ancient time has deposited. In these landscape revelations, a present sanctuary emerges …

There it is. The theme: stone, brick, tiles, deposits upturned, limestone quarried, carvings revealed, obsidian rock, **black rock … the coming of Spring … subterranean revelations … sanctuary.

*Upturned is the title of my latest poetry book.

**Craggan Dhu Time Will Tell is the title of my novel (available on Amazon). Craggan Dhu is Gaelic for Black Rock


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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