About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kiwi Christmas Tree

Since we're taking a bit of a break from Fun Monday this week to give all the little elves a
chance to finish their holiday preparations, I thought I'd share a couple of photos of a really unusual tree that I saw on a horticultural tour of New Zealand a couple of years ago. The Pohutukawa, or New Zealand Christmas Tree, is ablaze with crimson flowers from October through December, especially along the Tasman Sea coastal areas. "Pohutukawa" is Maori for "drenched with mist" or "splashed with sea spray." because it thrives by the sea. The plant can either be shrubby as seen along the water's edge or cultivated as trees in more formal garden plantings. Trees can reach 15 feet height when fully mature.

English settlers in New Zealand used the pohutukawa flowers in place of holly for their Christmas decorations, hence the re-naming. The flower heads are frothy red pom poms that pop out of equally beautiful creamy white buds. The leaves of the tree are medium green and quite waxy to touch.

I took this very bad photo of the pohutukawa flower and actual clipping. Look at the pressed flower to see exactly how the bloom is made up of hundreds of tiny red "stems" from each bud. I probably wasn't supposed to bring this back in the U.S., but I was using the flower as a bookmark and forgot about having it. And the agricultural customs beagle at the airport didn't ask to check my book when I was flying out of New Zealand. I do remember that we saw this tree the same morning that we got up before dawn and hiked through a dark primordial green forest without making a sound in order to see two baby penguins come out on the Tasman Sea beach. What a thrill even though we could barely see them.

Here's hoping your holidays are as festive as the Kiwi Christmas Tree or as quiet and precious as the two baby penguins on the beach at dawn. All the best to you and yours this holiday season. Faye


Lane Mathias said...

What a beautiful tree. The blooms are amazing.

Merry Christmas to you too Faye, and to your sister.

And Seasons Greetings of course to Sir Willie:-)

karisma said...

I think your pictures are lovely!

Wishing you a very safe and happy Xmas season! I hope Santa is kind to you! Take care! Hugs xxxxxx

m (the misanthrope) said...

Beautiful, beautiful pics Faye. You have traveled a lot! I'm jealous :-) Thanks for the Christmas wishes, and right back atcha! I'm hoping for the "two adorable baby penguins" type of holiday, since I've had enough festivizing (new word). Best to you and yours! M

Gattina said...

What a beautiful tree and such an interesting story ! Of course I have never seen such a tree not even in a picture !

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Glorious photos. My brother in law and family all live in New Zealand and I'd love to visit there at some point.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and 2009. xxx

Swampwitch said...

I LOVE NEW ZEALAND ! (and its people)

May you and yours have a healthy, happy, and safe holiday.