The only thing better than getting to see the world is getting to see it along with someone who means the world to me – thank you for everything…
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This 200-year-old uncredited drawing is probably the first European record of the Australian black swan, locally named mulgos. As this little guy below can tell you black swans are also found in New Zealand and the UK where their aggressiveness is feared to be endangering native birds – and they’re among his neighbors on the beaches that ring Lake Taupo.
Black swans known for their bugle-like call, for usually mating for life, and for aggressively defending their cygnets. I’ve been told that, like geese, these large birds are powerful and can cause injuries at full charge.
A few days after I arrived my mother introduced me to this spot, this friendly duck and the area’s five newest inhabitants. I was lucky – they were all conveniently awake and about despite unseasonably damp and chilly weather.
Suddenly, something happened -
Forget heroics or action photography – I straight out froze when I heard the sound.
Luckily, something kicked in and my trigger finger moved again before my heart did. I never figured out what startled her – she calmed as quickly and inexplicably as she had raged.
Feathers were re-ruffled, water droplets settled – and my own mother told me it was time for everyone to go.
When it comes to weather, Kansas is a bit unpredictable. I never counted on a white Christmas or even a cold Christmas and always figured I was flexible when it came to how the holidays “should” be. But spending the holiday season in New Zealand this year was confusing.
With the sun out and the beaches full of kids on holiday, there’s no trouble getting into the swing of summer. I can wear sandals, shorts and t-shirts walking to town and eat lunch on my parents’ back patio while the house’s doors and windows are all open to catch the breeze.
On the other hand, I could totally get into the holiday spirit just by reading in the living room next to our family’s tiny Christmas tree with white lace snow flakes, or when the kids the language school where my mom works learned to bake holiday pies.
The problem comes with doing both at the same time. Every time we turn on the radio or tv, there’s advertisements: “Do your holiday shopping during Farmer’s summer blowout sales!” “Get your Kiwi bloke a grill this holiday season!” “Spend your Christmas Eve at AC Baths – swimming, raffles, prizes!” Every time we watch tv, there’s commercials that just do not make sense to me.
I realized just how embedded some of my seasonal patterns are; I get little twinges when things don’t match up, whether it’s tourists who show up in July and complain about the cold or my mother referring to April as “last fall.”
Luckily, this complicated problem has a simple fix : there’s nothing more relaxing or more joyous than a family Christmas picnic at the beach.
The end of the semester! I’ve turned in my students’ grades, received some of mine and finished semester projects. That means it’s time for winter break. My brother Peter, Steven and I heading to my parents’ house on New Zealand’s north island. I’ve been once, Peter has lived here over a year and visited since and it will be Steven’s first visit.
This time we’ll probably stay closer to home, but here are a few images from the north island…
…and a few images from the the south island…
…and a little something extra.