Our beautiful world

The wind is blowing in the trees. It sounds like the sea. The sun is on the mountain. And outside the house, a pair of nesting quails are foraging among the bird seed that has spilled from the bird table.

When I step outside, I hear the sound of many wings… I have disturbed the green finches feeding, and their flight is like the sound of many muffled hands clapping.

This place is my new home, forty acres of forest, where our little wood cabin looks down a valley and up to a forest covered mountain. Where we hear the sound of our two streams meeting down below long before they join others to make the river. It flows beside the long winding road of blind u-shaped bends and gravel and often mud, which is the only way to reach us. When intrepid travellers finally reach the top of the forested mountain range, on this road famous for its degree of difficulty, and which only the brave or the ignorant attempt, they come to our big iron gates, and the elusive gate code, only available to those who are welcome.

We live several miles further on inside the gate, down a well-tended paved road, over-hung at this moment by the manukau trees frosted with scented white blossom  providing food for bees who make the healing manukau honey. We pass the steep hidden drives of the other occupants of this magic place, a forest which is covenanted and preserved for whatever the future holds for the planet.

There are about twenty-five of us, like-minded people who, on settling here, have agreed not to have  dogs or cats or introduce plants or trees which are not native to this place. So because this podocarp forest is covenanted, and these agreements are in place, the silence is never disturbed by the sound of a barking dog, and the only man-made sound is the distant hum of a car snaking slowly along the road.

And yet it is never silent. Tuis flute their glorious song during the day, the shining cuckoo sings its melody, while green finches cheep, and sometimes flights of red, blue, green and yellow rosellas come chattering by. A kingfisher, making his sharp repetitive call, sits on a dead branch a few yards away from the cabin, and dives into the long grass to snatch up in his sharp beak a grasshopper or other insect which his beady eyes have detected.

At night, a morepork – the New Zealand owl, so named because his call sounds like those words – perches on the same branch and hoots softly across the valley from where answering calls return. When birds are silent in the heat of the day, the all- pervasive buzzing of bees and flies and other insects fill the space, and then there is the glory of cricket and cicada each in their appointed time sending out their nostalgic rasping, warning us that summer does not last forever.

I listen to try to hear the moment when cricket takes over from cicada, but am never mindful enough. We have now watched the sun move across the horizon opposite for one whole year, and know that when it reaches the point of the ridge on midsummer’s day, it will begin once again to move inexorably back to the dip in the ridge halfway across the other side, towards the shortest darkest day. And we have watched the moon now for a whole year, as it rises in the sky to the side of the cabin, and then shines over the mountain and the trees, shedding gold light and mystery over the silent forest.

When it rains we gaze across the misty view which echoes a Chinese painting, and the beauty catches our breath. A myriad of different species of trees inhabit this unspoiled place, the different greens and shapes sprawling like a huge tapestry over the hills. When I gaze at them in the sunshine they  shine, almost as though they were lit up with the lights that stopped Xerxes, King of Kings in his tracks, when his great army rolled across the dusty plains of Asia. Transfixed by a mystical, shining sycamore tree he remained there for two days to the puzzlement of his soldiers.

And here, as the sun moves across the sky, shadows deepen the colours of towering trees, and reveal deep folds of green hills and gorges, and one mountain crowding another. Hidden deep beneath the canopy are rare and cherished species of trees and ferns and also exquisitely camouflaged frogs and lizards, moths and insects, one lizard so rare that only twelve others have been sighted in the rest of the world.

We had the privilege of seeing such a lizard when a neighbour found her with her tail gone and a blood-shot eye. She was rushed to the zoo several hours drive away, and there nurtured back to health. When healed a few weeks later, she was returned to her home grounds, and a group of residents gathered to inspect the precious creature – about four inches long – to witness her return to the wild. This shared concern makes a warm community hard to find anywhere else, particularly when that concern is cemented with good wine and cheese to fortify us before returning to our own native habitats!

We achieved brief fame on the estate when we discovered an Archey’s frog, another endangered species, down our drive. These finds are logged and we have to provide the time of day, the weather, the habitat and many other tiny details to enlarge the knowledge of environmentalists. Since then others have been found, and we realise that this place has become a haven for endangered species.

Are we an endangered species? Sometimes it feels like it. Knowing as we do that the world is changing, that climate change is a fact, whatever climate-deniers, big business and flat-earthers think, that ice caps are melting, our oceans depleted and polluted, that bees are dying from strange viruses and pesticides, and trying to get our heads around the fact that people are still killing the great animals which ensure our survival on the planet – the future of mankind seems as misty as our cloud covered hills.

There is something deeply awe-full and dread-full about the words ‘the Sixth Great Extinction’ which we are now living through according to scientists. So grasping at small straws of comfort can help us to come to terms with this extraordinary time in the history of the world. Living here in this precious piece of preserved forest and rare species has made us much more aware of other safe places and of so many other people dedicated to nurturing the planet.

So wonderful Bill Gates and the other billionaire philanthropists who are devoting huge sums of their money to work on long term alternative green energy sources make me feel hopeful. And I read today that Catholic priests have been instructed by the Vatican to preach about the environment, climate change and preserving the world. It’s what used to be called ‘spreading the word’.

It’s about each of us doing what we can, where we are. I have a friend who never goes anywhere without a plastic bag folded in her pocket. Whether on a walk on the beach with her, or on an overseas trip, staying in a rubbish strewn camp ground, she fills her bag. Single handed she can’t clear all the rubbish, but she does her bit.

Yes, on our own we cannot save our world, but like my friend we can all find ways, however small, of mitigating the damage. I know everyone who reads this blog is already committed to preserving life on earth, so I’m merely sharing one aspect of my new life, which is all about the environment. Tell you more next time!!!!

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Having broken my leg badly six months ago and due to side effects still having difficulty walking, I’m actually listening to my doctor for once. She gave me a leaflet full of calcium – rich recipes, and one of them has transformed my idea of breakfast. It’s delicious as well as nutritious.

Leave quarter of a cup of oats soaking in quarter of a cup of hot water overnight if possible, but for at least four hours. Peel and grate an apple and mix into the oats with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir in two tablespoons of cream, quarter of a cup of natural sweetened yogurt and a tablespoon of honey – I use the healing manukau honey.

Fruit if desired… it’s a filling and satisfying breakfast, especially when topped off with a freshly brewed cup of lapsang souchong, the favourite drop of the cup that cheers but doth not in-ebriate !

And a PS… many months ago my computer collapsed, taking blog, addresses, etc, etc. Before I had a chance to rehabilitate myself and come to terms with a new computer and the dreaded Windows 10, disaster struck, and I disappeared into hospital for two and a half months. Still rusty trying to climb back on the computer deck, and still clambering  clumsily around trying to master the new technology . So please excuse any infelicities you detect!

Food for Thought

I don’t know who wrote this, but I like it:

not doubting,
intrepid all the way,
walk toward clarity
with keen eye,
With sharpened sword
clear cut the path
to the lucent surprise
of enlightenment.
At every crossroad
be prepared to bump into wonder


Filed under birds, bloggers, consciousness, cookery/recipes, environment, food, happiness, life/style, pollution, sustainability, Thoughts on writing and life, uncategorised, Uncategorized

50 responses to “Our beautiful world

  1. Angela

    Valerie!!! What a wonderful surprise to see your name in the inbox…..have thought about you so often. Sorry to hear of your trials etc & hope you stay well now. Look forward to hearing more of ypur new adventure.


  2. Thank you for returning. I have read with joy the news you shared. I wish you well and trust good health will be yours to enjoy in 2017. PS. Your surroundings sound so heaven like. Peace be with you. Much love Denise Peacocke


  3. I think your mental waves wafted across the sea to me a few days ago. I was thinking about you, wishing I had heard where you had moved and what you were doing. So sorry for your difficulties, too, but enthralled at the prose for your new home. I very much look forward to future posts. Very best wishes.


  4. What a welcome sight, Valerie, your post in my reader. You’ve certainly been living adventures! I hope you’ll share them with us by and by. Welcome back, my dear! 😉 xoxoM


  5. You have come home. I am well pleased. Home is a good place to find. c


    • Dear, dear Cecilia, I know you understand when you write I have come home.. and it is more peaceful, joyful and beautitul than I could ever have imagined.
      Now to catch up with all your doings, now I can click on your gravatar… losing all the blogs I followed was a real deprivation…love, Valerie

      PS are you coming this way again in the near future ????

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are my Christmas gift! What a surprise. It’s good to hear that you are doing better. I’m sorry we weren’t able to be more supportive during your bad times. Your new home sounds lovely and very different. Looking forward to hearing more!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Valerie, I have missed your brilliance and connectedness. Your words give me pleasure and hope to discover where I fit in NOW.


  8. Wonderful that you are feeling better and what a lovely, in the moment, life you lead!


    • Cindy, lovely to see you face and read your message…
      I’m so looking forward to being able to click and get back to your beautiful blog and read your adventures, which all disappeared when my computer went bung…


  9. Joseph Chaning-Pearce



  10. At last you are back Valerie….! What a pleasure to see your name in the inbox after so long a break. And poor you, you’ve had a literal break of your poor leg… oh dear! It sounds as if you’ve had a grim time of it …. I hope those dark days are behind you now… You have moved to what sounds like the most idyllic place in NZ, a magnet for endangered species including some members of the human species. I am so looking forward to hearing more about your journey to this point and your new life, and hope to see some enchanting pics too. Very warm wishes for the festive season, the summer solstice, etc… I hope that 2017 is a year of peace, revelations and delights for you.



    • Dear Elly,
      How lovely to find your warm message…no more making conversation with Marie- Claire then !!!
      Yes, life does seem idyllic, and it’s lovely that you want to know more… so encouraging and stops me feeling self-absorbed !
      Warmest wishes to you too for all the seasonal markers and dates bearing down upon us, can’t believe we’re not far off 2017….
      Love, Valerie


  11. Just last week, I wondered once again where you were…and now I know. Sorry to hear about your leg. Your new place sounds marvelous and I look forward to hearing more about it. Thanks for the recipe and I hope your pre-Christmas season is going well



    • Dear Janet,,
      So good to see your message… thank you so much, and glad you enjoy hearing about the new adventure – more to come !!!
      Hope all is going well for you, and you’re not too busy before Christmas – if that is possible !!!!


  12. I am so so so excited to see your return and to hear you are in a beautiful paradise. You have been in my thoughts over the past months. I read your post over several times, just to breath in the deliciousness of your words. Take care of yourself. Many many hugs and lots of love coming your way. Life is so good when shared with kindred spirits.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sandra Kostka

    So happy you are well.  Love reading your blog.  It is very relaxing and inspiring. Sandra Kostka

    From: valeriedavies To: skostka5@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, December 12, 2016 3:46 PM Subject: [New post] Our beautiful world #yiv5757603718 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5757603718 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5757603718 a.yiv5757603718primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5757603718 a.yiv5757603718primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5757603718 a.yiv5757603718primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5757603718 a.yiv5757603718primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5757603718 WordPress.com | valeriedavies posted: “The wind is blowing in the trees. It sounds like the sea. The sun is on the mountain. And outside the house, a pair of nesting quails are foraging among the bird seed that has spilled from the bird table.When I step outside, I hear the sound of many win” | |


  14. Thanks for this fine blog post, Valerie!

    Good to see you back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mariette Bodman

    Dear Valerie, I was thrilled to read your blog tonight. Last week my daughter and I were discussing our hospital experiences, our pain, our recuperation, the giggles our fellow patients allowed us and I would love to give you a hug and wish you the best for 2017. I am still struggling with walking , pain and part of the foot which is still numb. Hope your knee is much better. Love


    • Dear Mariette,
      Thank you so much for your comment and good wishes… I laughed when I read your words, because I share your pain – my foot and shin are still numb too !!!! Slows you up doesn’t it…
      Hope you improve and are able to start singing and dancing again in 2017,
      Love Valerie


  16. Shona Macleod

    Dear Valerie,

    I am so happy that you have returned to blogland . I was concerned about the long silence but it is good to know that all is well despite the trials and tribulations of the past year.

    In your idyllic surroundings I wonder how easy it is to access medical help and provisions but no doubt there are ways and means.

    Seasons Greetings and best wishes

    Shona Macleod




    • Dear Shona, what a lovely surprize to see you name in the comments… I was counting and we must go back for 36 years, mustn’t we?
      Anyway, great to hear from you, and I hope you’re well and enjoying life…
      the answers to your questions will make themselves known in the next blog or so !!!!
      IN the meantime, warmest wishes for the festive season and for 2017,
      Love Valerie


  17. We’ve just travelled the ‘new’ 10 hour inland trek from Geraldine to our bolthole in the Mahau Sounds. We’re here, the white flowering kanukas look like snow around the valley; the Sound is lovely and rugged with wee whitcaps; the flax flowers are out and tui are feeding outside the window; Mrs H is snoring from a well earned bottle of wine (after that trip); wee Daisy dog is snuggled into my leg; there’s a 3% chance we get wiped out if the alpine fault ruptures, and there is a sublime Valerie Davies blog after all this time. What a glorious Christmas is in the offering 🙂


    • Dear Mark, what a beautiful comment to find… both for the lovely writing and description, and for your wonderful welcome back to me.
      Your bolthole sounds wonderful, and I do agree that the wine sounds well-earned… isn’t lt always ? and I was delighted to think that you enjoy my blogs ( I nearly wrote columns – an old habit )
      I’ve tried so often to get to your blog but have never been able to master Blogspot… or Twitter or Facebook or Pininterest – or any of the other technical skills demanded of a denizen of the 21st century.. maybe I will find a way in the next year… where there’s a will there’s a way. – I think…
      Anyway, until then, thank you again, and a very good Christmas to you – and also Daisy


  18. Dear Valerie,

    So sorry about the flurry of woes that beset you and pleased that things are settling down. Your new home sounds idyllic peaceful. The perfect place for your mind to be free for the writing you do so beautifully.
    I’m pleased to read your voice once more.




    • Dear Rochelle,
      Lovely to hear from you..and I like the thought of being free to write again… I’m hoping so…
      NO doubt we’ll be in touch before Christmas, so I’ll wait until then to wish your the season’s greetings,
      Love Valerie


  19. YAY! You are back! I am so happy…having your blog pop up then reading through the magical world you live in my heart lifted up and yelled YAY!



  20. Kaye

    Thank you Valerie for your latest blog. Glad you are back online again. I have returned home to live in Auckland to be handy to family who moved back from Melbourne too. I am now in Ellerslie and I am woken by the tuis every morning. I really know I am home! When I read all your words on nature I recalled the statement from the American scientist Hope Jahren, who was interviewed earlier this year on Radio NZ. She was interviewed about her book, “Lab Girl”. She commented that ” a leaf is a platter of pigments with a vascular lace” Wow that really hit me as it is so true! I went straight out to buy her book then gave it to my Daughter in law. It is about the labs she has set up against some male criticism but a very illuminating memoir about life, family and science. I could not put it down. She has a blog also which I enjoy. Could you mention to Pat who may recall who I am. He wrote up our story in North and South, about our son Andrew Stokes who suicided in 1987 after struggling without proper medical help, with a severe head injury. My husband Mike and I went over to Melbourne in 1995 to be near our other son and his young family. Then Mike was diagnosed with MND and died in 2006. It was the best place to be as he made himself available for research and in his blood they found he had a mutant gene, TDP 43 which added to their work around the world and when he died he gifted his brain and spinal chord to the Howard Florey institute for research too. It is good to be home in NZ although I never really wanted to live in Auckland after Christchurch and Akaroa! I am enjoying being near family and and old nursing friends too. Best wishes Kaye Cossar Stokes >


    • Dear Kaye,
      Thank you so much for your long and fascinating comment.. It sounds as though you’ve had some real challenges to face, and I do hope you find much happiness back in Auckland with your family. I must say I envy Melbourne, – a city I love.
      I”m afraid that Pat at 87 has been in a retirement home for several years, where he needs total care and no longer can use his computer, so I am be unable to deliver your message.
      I hope you have a happy NZ Christmas, tuis and all !!!,
      With warmest wishes,


  21. The breakfast recipe sounds yummy (and healthy)!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Thank you Christy, I think that’s the idea !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi Valerie! I have missed you and wondered what you were up to. Thanks for bringing your long distance friends and followers up to date.


  24. Hello Jadi – so good to hear from you… yes, it’s lovely to be back with touch with old friends… and back to writing too.. Looking forward to catching up with you, Valerie


  25. Nancy

    Like the others I too wondered what had happened to my In Box with no Valerie in it.
    Blessings at this Blessed time.


  26. Valerie! It is wonderful to see you again. Your new life adventure sounds beautiful. I am so glad you have returned to blogging. 🙂


  27. How delightful Valerie. The mist softening the ranges at dusk often reminds me of an antique silk painting! What we are protecting here will become a rarer and more vital pure lung for the planet. Lovely to have your kindred spirit here with us. I enjoy reading your word. It illuminates with the ‘why’ – the reason for each breath. Beauty in the moment. Depth in the living. A pleasure to enter your mind for these brief blogs. Xx


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