I was struck with the juxtaposition of this gnarled tree and the smoothness of the War Memorial.  The tree appears to have its roots around the lion guarding the names of the dead.  I felt that if a picture could be called a haiku, this is it.  A fitting tribute to those who will not grow old…

dust to dust
held lightly by the tree
our fallen


Every so often I see something so ugly that it is actually beautiful… This Government building in Whanganui is a case in point.  Initially I only saw the ugliness, then I looked closer, saw the angles, the vegetation, the colours on the concrete – and was fascinated.  I see the current occupants are moving out soon, and wonder what its fate will be.


These are the large, unripe drupes of the New Zealand Karaka tree (Corynocarpus laevigatus).  They are coloured orange when ripe.  Several bird species feed on ripe Karaka fruits – among them the Silvereye, Myna, Starling, House Sparrow and the Blackbird.  The only birds that swallow a whole fruit are the New Zealand Pigeons (Kereru), and they are well-known dispersers of the seeds.  Blackbirds may also disperse the seeds by carrying the fruit further off from the tree.

But be warned, the fruit is extremely toxic to both humans and dogs, and must on no account be eaten.  Maori state that the pulpy part of the fruit is edible, though bitter, but the seed highly poisonous unless carefully prepared by cooking and soaking.  Early cases of poisoning by eating Karaka were not uncommon.


Along the wilder reaches of the river I always expect to meet Toad or Ratty messing about in boats.  But all we usually find is pumice and driftwood brought down by the last flood tide.  I love the brightness of clover and dandelions that have a precarious foothold on the mud-banks.  Bert busies himself with all sorts of wonderful smells, and we have to keep a weather eye out to make sure he doesn’t roll in any of the more interesting ones.

along the summer river