Frogs, Potatoes and Stars

How do you inadvertently order a taxi? You may well ask! Long story. One that cost me $100.

Pōneke and cable car.

Surprised my sister with a visit for her birthday and she went from glum to glad in an instant. It was her daughter’s suggestion for me to make the visit and help her mother enjoy a birthday she wasn’t looking forward to; it being her first birthday since her partner’s death.

Sunflowers were a favourite of my sister’s late partner. The ones he planted now doing him proud.

Good to re-visit her place, seeing again the birds that have made her field their home – among them, noisy parakeets, rapier-eyed herons, a magpie mafia, chortling ring-necked doves, balletic swifts and the ever-circling, ever vigilant hawk.

In a low spot close to the water table where water has pooled – luckily a long way from where the rapier-thin, gimlet-eyed herons stand watch – J. pulled aside a clump of long, damp grass to point out a family of frogs.



We drove to Manawatu on my sister’s birthday, checking out some cafes and shops, as well as Palmerston North Gardens (a favourite.)

Cows. Ashhurst.
Hot house orchids Palmerston North Gardens


Another day we spent time in Raumati South. I remember R and I staying there when our oldest son was a few months old. Which means it was forty years ago.

In between visits, the beach has gained a foothold closer to land. Signs of encroachment easy to see.

My sister also has Raumati memories. One of her high school friends came from there. They lost touch years ago – but we did wonder if this friend was the middle-aged woman we could see inside the bach J remembered was her family’s. Some people might’ve gone and knocked on the door and found out. But it appears we’re not that kind of people. We drove on past without stopping, happy to keep wondering.

Not the bach mentioned above …
Lunch at the Rosetta Cafe, Raumati South.


Another day we spent in and around Wellington before meeting our brother and sister in law for lunch in Petone.

NIWA (National Institute of Weather and Atmospheric research) boat heading out into blustery waves

Rough seas around Wellington that day as we edged around the coast, the sea roaring and spitting at us all the way.

Taputeranga Reserve
The ferry heading into Wellington harbour.


The day before I was due to return home, we dug up all of the potatoes that had been planted in large tubs. Quite the harvest! All kinds – Jersey Bennies, Agra and Maori potatoes of various varieties – Moemoe, Karuparerā, Huakaroro and Tutaekuri.


Moon waxing gibbous above our house in Dunedin

The evening before I left, my sister and I checked out the Milky Way shining clear above her house, the absence of light pollution gifting us a starry map worthy of wonder. As we stood there we listened out for the frogs, but they had fallen silent.

My sister surprised me in return

The flowers my sister sent after I’d arrived back home, made up for me inadvertently ordering a taxi from Momona Airport. How do you inadvertently order a taxi? You may well ask! Long story. One that cost me $100.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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