It was a lover and his lass, With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino, That o’er the green cornfield did pass, In springtime, the only pretty ring time, When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding; Sweet lovers love the spring.
I haven’t written a poem for a long time and I was lacking a topic for today, so I started on a poem about the spring. However it didn’t work, wasn’t working, so I gave up and quoted the bard, above.
Spring seems to engender creativity to match the burgeoning growth and fecundity of nature. As the days get lighter in the mornings the birds seem to get louder and louder as well as earlier and earlier, so that you almost feel guilty when indulging in a lie in.
The birds are of course breeding, nest building, and raising young. Round here that seems to mean that the Tuis rattle through the air, crashing from tree to tree. Tuis are not clumsy flyers, but are noisy ones. This means that the smaller and quieter birds get on with their business less noticeably, though a fantail was curiously looking at me while he was hopping about in the bushes. Who knows what he was up to?
The feathered pommie immigrants are mostly songbirds, and so thrushes and blackbirds are evident in the dawn chorus. Oh, and there are plenty of chattering sparrows here. I may have mentioned this before but in the UK the sparrow population is still declining, and if the sparrows here continue to prosper, it could be that we could send some back to repopulate their original homelands.
We have had a really good spring so far and all the plants and animals are a week or two ahead of where they would normally be. In particular the grapevines are reported to be doing really well this year. The danger is that a wintery throwback may occur, nipping all the buds off the sprouting plants, including the vines, killing early insects and dooming some of the new chicks to starvation. I understand that early and luxurious growth is not necessarily good news for the wine industry either, since restricted growth concentrates the flavours or something.
The wine industry use helicopters to reduce the effects of late frosts. Hiring a helicopter for a few hours is apparently a cost-effective way of fighting frosts. This has led to conflicts between wineries and their neighbours in some places – who wants to be woken by a helicopter at 2am?
Hmm, well, I started talking about spring and seems to have moved on to talking about wine. One more comment about wine before I move on. New Zealand has many wineries and most welcome visitors to taste and buy wines. Many are small and welcoming and others are large and welcoming.
One of the smaller ones is Salvare. We enjoyed a platter of food there on the deck overlooking the vineyards. We also sampled their wines and their olive oil in a very relaxed atmosphere.
One of the larger ones is Mission Estate. Mission Estate was set up by a religious order and is a luxurious place with an award-winning restaurant and is located on the outskirts of Napier. We had tea there in the grounds of the splendid house overlooking the vineyards and Napier. There was a wedding being hosted there in that lovely environment.
If you go there be sure to see the Quiet Room which reflects the religious nature of the founders of the Estate. While we were there I bought a very nice bottle of wine, ironically produced in Marlborough and not Hawkes Bay and I would have bought the t-shirt if there had been one in my size!
These two wineries are merely examples of ones that we have visited. There are many, many others and scattered amongst the vineries are artisan breweries, olive oil producers and similar enterprises most of whom welcome visitors, (though opening times vary).
Back to spring in Wellington. Apart from the deafening clamour of the birds and their to-ing and fro-ing, spring is evident in the foliage. The lawn, which I last cut a week or two is showing a green flush already and the bushes are all sprouting pale green leaves. There is a small bush by our front door which is home to stick insects later in the year. Being a northern hemisphere species it loses its leaves in the winter and becomes stick-like and dead-looking and is now bursting into leaf. No stick insects yet, though.
The temperatures have been high for this time of year, mostly. Clear skies have meant the occasional nippy morning and cars left out have had films of ice on their windscreens, but generally spring this year has been very pleasant. However, we are currently heading for a reminder that winter is not long gone, since the forecast is for wild weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. Batten down the hatches!