Fagus Sylvatica – European Beech. Found growing in the Dunedin Botanical Gardens. Especially impressive in autumn when the leaves’ amber tones contrast well against the siver-grey branches, and in winter when the grey (often rain-soaked) trunks take on even deeper tones of silver.
Apologies if I’ve posted photos of these trees before. But, no, I’m not really sorry. They are majestic enough to bear much repeating.
When I see these trees, I think of my poet-pals, M. and C. and E. We’d often stroll past these trees on the way back to our cars after our poetry get-togethers, remarking on the beauty of these elephantine beeches. (Looking forward to some more botanical bolstering and poetry ‘preciation with M. and C. – and in memory of E. – soon.)
New Zealand has been under Level Two of the Covid pandemic for nearly two weeks now. Fair to say that we are warily moving towards more relaxed daily lives. It’s nice to hear the noisy burble of school kids again from across the road. But we’re not there yet. The tape-crosses marking social distance in the shops, the queues before entering shops, the spaced-out tables in the cafes, the perspex screens between yourself and serving staff (making it hard in some cases to actually hear what each other is saying) the wide berth we still give each other, all reminders that we are still in battle and/ or defence mode. But masks are not a common sight. Maybe they are being worn on buses? And in places where close contact is unavoidable? I have not ventured far into many (if any) of these spaces, so I don’t know if they are being worn there or not. I’ve yet to venture into my gym. Or library. Or bookshop (did order books which were delivered.) Or cafe for a coffee. My life is still rich without. I can hug my grandchildren – that’s the main thing. We’re supporting locals with takeaways and meals and ordering stuff online. *Since writing this, some restrictions have been relaxed even more from Friday, with gatherings of up to 100 people allowed now instead of only ten and social distancing has been reduced to 1 meter in place of the 2 meter rule. Level one is predicted to come into force in about a month’s time. An app that records where you’ve been is also being used (I just downloaded it today. I was a bit slow on that one. However, most places now have a way of recording your presence.) I guess the screens and X marks the spot and masks will still be a feature.
I think it’s twice now New Zealand has got to three days in a row of zero cases. I guess we are hanging out (and hopeful of) a whole long row of zero cases. 0000000000000000000. And (maybe, just maybe) our unified ‘stamp it out’ goal will have been achieved.
More favourite trees of mine. Very different from the stately beech, these wind-sculptured macrocarpa grow where I was brought up, in Orepuki, Murihiku / Southland and where I am looking forward to taking my new poetry book for a trip when it comes out next month.
The paperback version of my novel ‘Craggan Dhu. Time Will Tell’ will be arriving in a few weeks (about the same time as my new poetry collection I suspect). This book will also be taken on a trip south – down to the place where it is based – loosely or not so loosely (depending on which way you hold your mouth?) Thanks for those who have already ordered a copy.
where rain has fallen through the night
Consider the tenacity
of bitter light.
And the trees
that have no doubts,
regard their umpire stance
the way they study the day
wherever it begins its sad cycling
— how they close like great gates.
Kay McKenzie Cooke