So as I’ve lamented here and on the Facebook and IRL (in real life for those of you not in the know on that), our time here is speeding to an end. We still have heaps of adventures coming our way, but we’re wrapping it up. And it makes me SAD, because there has not been one single day that I haven’t been so grateful and in love with this experience. And also, it’s summer now, so the weather is perfection. The flowers are blooming, the trees are blooming, the breeze is blowing, and the sun in shining. Bliss.
There is a famous tree here called the Pohutukawa. Also referred to as the New Zealand Christmas Tree, because of its deep, fiery red flowers and the fact that it blooms now, right before Christmas. They have these massive and bendy trunks that sometimes defy logic – the tree should’ve broken in two, but instead, the trunks just start growing again from where they’ve bent. Here’s an image I lifted from google that kind of shows what I mean.
The trees on the city streets tend to be more upright, but still beautiful. Here’s a couple of pictures I’ve taken of some of our local trees. And they are EVERYWHERE – it’s so fun to see them all in bloom now.
And these are Agapanthuses – that’s a very awkward plural. A singular bush is called an Agapanthus. Here are a bunch of them. Another one of my favorite NZ flowers, and I loved how this one was just popping out.
Since we’re winding down our time here, I’ve been kind of frantic trying to do all the stuff I’ve wanted to do. And, honestly – that mostly means eating and drinking at certain places… When we go to pick up Tate, every day about 2:30ish, there are people sitting out in a couple of cafes enjoying a bottle of wine. At 2:30! In the afternoon! And when I see that, I think, “Well, maybe it *is* the perfect time to have a glass of wine.” So fortunately for me, I’ve met some very nice people who have helped me check off things on my Herne Bay bucket list. Had dinner and drinks at one of the places with a friend earlier this week, and then lunch and a couple bottles of wine with some other friends on another day. And all the while, trying to soak it all up, commit it all to heart, and saying a little prayer of Thanksgiving for these lovely ladies who have included me in their lives, which has made my life here immeasurably better. I don’t know the words to let them know what their friendship has meant to me.
Friday night we took a walk down Franklin Road, which is a street where everyone decorates for Christmas. We couldn’t wait till it got all the way dark, but we definitely got the idea – quite a nice little stroll, but strange in our sleeveless tops and jandals (flip flops).
And yes – that is a lit-up kiwi. My new, all-time most favorite Christmas decoration EVER. Must find one in the States. Any price would be worth it. Sorry, Professor.
OK, now this picture below, I’m not sure you’ll really appreciate. The house on the left is all tricked out. Lights and decorations everywhere. Trees, trains, Santa – you name it, this house had it. The house on the right just had a sign that says, “Ditto” with an arrow pointing to the neighbors’. It was fantastic. The Professor especially appreciated the efficiency of that decorating effort.
And then this morning we went to another beach. Up on the North Shore, not one of the local ones, called Long Bay. It was beautiful and sunny and warm and a great way to pass some time. The girls frolicked in the waves, we went for some walks, I even suckered Gracie into admitting that she’s had some fun here during our Kiwi adventure (but please don’t tell her I told you)…
Gracie’s last day of school is Monday – and that’s only a half-day for prize giving. I’ll meet her for lunch at Mary’s, our favorite cafe near her school and then we’ll head back to St. Mary’s College for Tate’s year-end performance, which is a big mystery, but she’s excited and will only say this about it: “Bollywood.” Can’t wait! Drinks and dinner with friends that night. Gracie’s last Touch Rugby match Tuesday afternoon. Our beloved Hannah’s mom and sister arrive in Auckland Tuesday, too, so we’ll see them for dinner that night. Tate’s last day Wednesday. And then we take off Thursday. It’s all happening SO FAST. And it’s all so great. So will keep you posted – lots of fun coming at us in these last days.