While waiting at the airport for our plane to arrive, my sister in Wellington gets a text from her daughter. ‘Have you picked up the Aunts?’

Clouds above a Horowhenua hay paddock

Rough clouds appearing in my youngest sister’s life, meant that a week ago I flew to Christchurch to stay the night there with my other sister (middle sister) and in the morning, both of us catching a plane to Wellington.

It was a time for some sisterly support and solidarity.

While waiting at the airport for our plane to arrive, my sister in Wellington gets a text from her daughter. ‘Have you picked up the Aunts?’ This made us chuckle. We figured that we had a reputation to live up to now,.

A portion of my sister’s very large vegetable garden

The very large garden our sister has been left with needs a fair bit of maintenance – especially right now with spring growth.

We agreed that spring is not a favourite season – too much happening all at once. Frankly, it’s overwhelming. Roll on the lazy, hazy days of summer.

Somewhere in there you’ll see the hard working gardener

We offered to help and did spend some time weeding and clearing and planting. However, I suspect it’s a drop in the bucket.

And a large cabbage, the reward

There are bonuses – such as large fresh vegetables with that fresh-from-the-garden taste and quality.

Half of this cabbage was turned into a large stir fry.

Foxton’s windmill

Some enjoyable outings interspersed our ‘hard labour’ – such as the one out to Foxton to see the windmill and spot some birds.

Three sisters under a windmill
Bartailed godwits on Foxton Estuary

Lovely to see the kuaka / bartailed godwits in the distance. They make the long, non-stop journey to Foxton estuary (and a few other places in Aotearoa) from their breeding grounds in Alaska. An amazing 12000km journey across the Pacific Ocean, flying non-stop at 60 km an hour. Aotearoa / New Zealand is the place they favour for their summer feeding. They are the only shore birds to make such a journey. What amazing, tough little birds.

Each September, wherever they land, whether that be Foxton Estuary, Whanganui estuary, Miranda on the Firth of Thames or Christchurch, they are welcomed by the locals as a taonga (treasure). In March, they fly back home to Alaska with a stopover in the Yellow Sea and North Korea to tank up with food. [ Thanks to Merania Karauria editor of Manawatu Guardian for this information I found in an article in the NZ Herald. ]

Oyster catchers all in a row; Foxton Estuary
Fence-line rose buds

This blazing-orange rose was David – my sister’s partner’s – favourite. This season it’s really put on a show. It has an amazing scent too. We like to think it’s put in an extra effort for David.

White pony looks up from grazing just long enough for me to take a photo

On my walks I would spot this white pony and its mate. Seeing them always marked the turning point for me to make my way back, leaving them to their grazing, their suspicion boring into my retreating back.

A platter meal – salmon, pate, mussels, olives, cheeses and dips, crackers and chips … and wine

When I texted this photo to Robert he texted back, ‘the good life.’

And yes, life can be good between the bad bits. It was good to laugh together and to share good things. It doesn’t take much. Food. Wine. Nature.

Grey heron on the field
Fuzzy pic of kingfisher taken from the lounge – my small camera has its limits

As well as the kingfisher, I saw hawks soaring and floating, bunnies scampering (my sister’s curses at them an accompanying sound track) heard and saw the pheasant blaring from its fence-post lookout. Heard frogs. And middle sister saw a hare early one morning.

Tasting wine at Ōhau Wines – lovely place

Sadly alcohol gives me headaches (not always enough of a deterrent.) And I enjoy the odd bit of wine tasting when it is put in front of me. But as a rule, I don’t seek it out as an experience. However, when you’re with your sisters Chardonnay and Sav Blanc … what’s a Pinot Noir to do?

Cheeky! I think this is meant to be a hint about my hearing

On Sunday night we Zoomed our other sister in Perth. A lot of you-had-to-be-there hilarity ensued. Oh boy. We have definitely reached the status of ‘the Aunties’ – taking after our mother with her three sisters. It’s a worry.

Flowers, flowers, flowers … vegetables and fruit trees … What is there not to love about the bountiful supplies of nature?


Another outing we made was one to the small town of Shannon where we stopped for brunch one day. It is a town that is proud of what it has to offer and it’s obvious that it has taken pride in its heritage and buildings. It has a river not called Shenendoah (which part of me couldn’t help imagining …) but rather, the Mangahao Stream. The ‘stream’ part to the name belying its status as a fast running, power-station river with white water rafting.

Cafe in Shannon

My sister heading into the sunlight from the shadow – which is all we wish for her.

My sister’s cat, Willow, turning relaxing into an art form

The time came to leave.

Which was hard.

But we know that like the godwits, my sister’s a tough one. It will be a long journey ahead, but the support of whanau is sure to be the wind beneath her wings.

A dose every so often of sisters acting-up – aka the ‘Aunties syndrome’ – doesn’t hurt either. Roll on the next sisters act.

Return journey home
Porthole view over land north of Christchurch


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

One thought on “Wings

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