The Snows of Spring

Flecks of snow adorn the ground, sprinkled all around. The bushes too are draped and bedecked. The stark boldness of reflected light assaults the retina. On the pond, large blobs of it are floating around in a flotilla. This is a most unusual – snow in Rodney?

Hues of green are the usual visual feast in this pastoral wonderland. At 36.5 degrees south in Aoteoroa, on the isthmus between the mighty Kaipara and the eastern bays, it is barely 30km shore to shore. Springtime is moist and breezy with a salty tang to the clear air; great for growing grass and trees. Growth is good all through our northern winters – the warm-wet season I call it. My overcoat hangs neglected on the peg. It’s often too warm even for a raincoat, or for woolly jumpers, apparently…

Which is why, come those westerly spring brawls, when the streams run hard, a stroll round the paddocks brings me up with a start. Are those flakes of snow sprinkled about like blanched hundreds and thousands? On closer inspection the pattern is revealed, someone has scattered them artfully in oval drifts, at regular spacing. The white on green is garish but attractive in its fresh, spring-like way, as a linen print in a shop window.

Then I see the culprits wandering around stark-naked, quite unperturbed – brazen even – in their nudity, and I figure it out. They’re dazzling in their whiteness. It’s as if someone under cover of darkness and the raging storm, has scrubbed until they gleam with newfound purity. Of course! It’s my sheep that have shed their sparse fleeces. True to the Wiltshire tradition, they’ve shrugged off their coats to reveal their true colours!

Tuned in now to these landscapers’ highlights, I spot more. Clouds of light, cascading down branches like a bridal bouquet, are native clematis, and those powder coatings on the bushes are Manuka as they blink into life. That snowy flotilla breaks apart to reveal paradise shelducklings – incandescent balls of fluff, like wind-up toys. It’s the season for it; in the garden sweet-scented citrus and the broad beanery get in on the act.  Which goes to show, the snows of spring are a welcome climatic aberration!