Tuesday, 11 December 2007


Christmas has arrived early this year in Wellington. Not because the stores have been playing Christmas carols uncharacteristically early, not because there seem to be an unusually large number of buskers on Lambton Quay singing Christmas carols, not because the pohutakawa is flowering early (it isn't), and not even because I finished my Christmas shopping today.

No, Christmas has arrived early this year in Wellington because summer is here. Winter clothes have been stashed away, the windows are open, the tui are singing, barbecues are being fired up, and bare flesh is being exposed.

In New Zealand (and oft-starved-of-summer Wellington especially) Christmas is simply a gigantic party heralding the arrival of summer, the beginning of our long summer break, when school is out until February, the good weather really begins, the cities empty out and everyone heads to the beach or the lakes or sounds until mid or even late January if they are really lucky. Christmas is the smell of new cut grass and the feel of that cool grass between your bare toes, the mingled scent of Christmas lilies and pine trees in the house, picnics and burnt meat from the first barbecues of the season, long light evenings, the pop of corks from chilled champagne, new potatoes and fresh strawberries for Christmas dinner.

So all my senses are telling me it is time to relax, slow down, drink champagne, turn off the laptop, and read a good book. The trouble is, I’ve started listening to them, even though I still have to complete an assignment for a client this week.

So I hope the rest of New Zealand forgives me for this, but if the weather gods are listening, I really need a couple of days cold miserable weather – letting me knuckle down and finish my work – before Christmas and summer really begins.

So, having stated this publicly, I should go start working on that assignment right now.

No ...

... wait ...

it's time to grill the pork chops and open some sauvignon blanc on the deck.

Bon appetite. I'll work tomorrow.


  1. I'm trying to wrap my head around "fresh strawberries" and "Christmas"! Is watching shows like Charlie Brown's Christmas or Rudolph part of a New Zealand summery Christmas?

  2. Oh MY GOD I AM SO JEALOUS. Here it is freezing rain every night all week.

  3. I think I could wrap my head around the idea of summer and winter being upsidedown...but I don't think I'd want to live in a place without seasons. I mean real seasons with snow!

    bridgett: Oh I hate freezing rain. We're getting it today. I do remember how beautiful the branches can look in the morning when they're covered in ice, but I also remember breaking my ankle some years ago. Bumming my way up backwards, two flights of stairs.

  4. Last December, about a year ago actually, my street lost 3 American basswood trees in one night to a freezing rain storm. Beautiful the next morning. Ghastly and beautiful.

  5. Helen. Strawberries and cream, with Christmas pudding. We kiwis are a confused bunch. Much of our media is from UK or US, so we grew up with dreams of a white Christmas.

    Bridgett: Don't be jealous. Think how I'll feel shivering in July when you're having summer and we don't even have a mid-winter holiday to look forward to.

    Deloney: I had these romantic visions of a snowy winter, but decided snow was over-rated after time spent in Dayton Ohio (minus 17 degrees F) one February. After a week I was so over snow, and could not understand why anyone would choose to live there!

    We can always go to the mountains or the south for snow.

  6. Not the same, mali. I will have to write something about this snow issue on my blog as Christmas approaches.

    I expect I'll have to teach my snowless musical friend mrs. slowcombe about snow too. It won't be easy. mrs. slowcombe is one tough nut. She won't listen. Truth be told, mrs. sloccombe is a punk.

  7. D: I look forward to reading more about snow then. I agree that mountains and skiing is not the same - in Dayton I was amazed that the snow went on for as far as I could see - I'm used to it stopping halfway down the hill.

    Mrs S is indeed in a snowless place now butI suspect grew up knowing snow. Good luck.

  8. Oh, I adored this post. I would love to hear a tui sing. I wonder if I can find their song online.

    Christmas fever is like spring fever, eh?

    Hope your big job is soon complete...

  9. IB: Here is the tui's song ... there are several in the trees outside my office window

  10. that's right: I grew up knowing snow: one new year's day on the top of Cherhill, with the white horse covered in snow I looked out at all of Wiltshire and heard a new and only that once thing: utter silence. Otherwise it was snowballs down the back of the neck in the playground and slush in your shoes at the bus stop. How many ways can you find to spell my name, deloney? I am a cult,as Kenneth Williams used to say on Just A Minute, so show some respect.
    Apart from which I agree completely: Panettone French toast with balsamic strawberries is our Christmas breakfast of choice,with Thai beef salad, onion tart and other delights for lunch, and I am counting down to the end of next week and four weeks off including two at funky Cape Patterson, down on the Gippsland Coast. Kate has started a 'tradition' of watching Bridget Jones on Christmas afternoon which I am somwhat dubious about, but I am usually in the other room shovelling trifle, pavlova, tiramisu and any other pudding available into my piehole.....

  11. Four weeks off???!!! Oh, how heavenly. Especially with all that food around. And Colin Firth... what more could anyone want? (Except perhaps some snow.)

  12. Mrs S thank you, you have solved my "what will we have for breakfast?" quandary. Sounds divine.

  13. M: As soon as I left this site the other day, I found that very site for the tui! Beautiful song. Maybe someday I'll hear it in person...

  14. Pork chops, mmm, with a sprinkle of lemon pepper.

  15. christmas and summer - seems so contradictory sometimes. and yet so real.

    i believe i read in jack welch's book that santa coming out on the beach one christmas gave him a new dimension to a problem he was thinking about.


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