Matai Street

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. –Luke 12.27

By Roger Childs

Last weekend we were in Christchurch catching up with family and friends. It was great time to go, because in a city that has been through so much in recent years, springtime is probably more vivid and vibrant than in any other place in the country. Hagley Park is the show piece, as there are thousands of daffodils, snowdrops and bluebells flowering along the many grassy verges. Then there are the cherry tree blossoms, especially on either side of Harper Avenue which runs through North Hagley.

Another feature of Spring is the variations in temperatures and Christchurch didn’t disappoint. It was 23ᵒ the day before we arrived; 11ᵒ the day we arrived and 19ᵒ the day we left.

The changing trees

From our front windows we look out at trees of many colours. However, at this time of the year the deciduous species are the most fascinating. 

Every day there are more leaves or flowers, or both. Spring is a wonderful season for change in nature as there is new growth, especially if there is a plenty of rain as well as warmth. 

It can galvanise us into the well named “spring clean” and it is a good time for clearing out rubbish and junk, mowing lawns, weeding gardens and planting flowers and vegetables.

The budding and flowering of the trees is a magical experience and always occurs in sequence. Waikanaens who regularly drive down Te Moana Road will know that the roadside trees blossom in a particular order which never changes. It’s certainly good to have some predictability and continuity in changing and uncertain times.

Te Moana Road

Seasons courtesy of the sun and the tilted Earth

The Sun is the engine that generates our weather. Because the Earth orbits around the Sun every 365 days or so, and revolves on its tilted axis, we get our seasons.

The spring (vernal) equinox for the Southern Hemisphere occurred late in September. At this time the “overhead sun” crossed the Equator on its “journey” south to the Tropic of Capricorn in late December. 

Consequently, because the angle of the sun’s rays is more “direct” and the southern hemisphere is slightly closer to the sun at that time of the year, temperatures are warmer. Down in Antarctica they get their first sunlight for many months.

It’s great to get the warmer weather and the longer daylight hours allow for more outdoor social interaction. There is also plenty of time in the evenings to get out in the garden, stroll along tracks or on beaches, or just have a wine, beer or G&T on the deck. 

However, the coming of the equinox is also a time for “equinoctial galesmainly from a westerly direction and these invariably last through October and into November.

The northern equivalent

Of course north of the Equator in America, Britain, northern Asia and Europe – they are into autumn (appropriately called The Fall in Canada and the US), and their spring will come late March and early April. This is when the overhead sun is “travelling” north from the Equator.

English Poet Robert Browning, while he was in Italy, put the start of Spring into verse in Home-thoughts, from Abroad:

O, to be in England 
Now that April ‘s there, 
And whoever wakes in England 
Sees, some morning, unaware, 
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf, 
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough 
In England — now!