Stewart Island Rainbow

An Islanders Winter

Hail on the lawn at Sails Ashore, Stewart Island

Looking out of a light sprinkling of hail on the lawn. One of those days when I’d much sooner be home than coming home !!

For many of our guests  Island life is a bit like the far side of the moon. After all many come from the large, busy cities, of Europe or North America. And so there is a lot of curiosity about the day to day life of an Islander. And a regular question is ” what do you do in the winter ?? ” as our visitor season is more or less October through to Easter, with January and February our peak visitor season.

We explain that we actually like winter, as it’s a complete change from our busy summer. Winter is a time for all those chores we didn’t get round to in the summer, but with the luxury of doing at our own pace. So we do admit to the odd sleep in, especially if the weather is a bit inclement, as it is today. … as I type this we are on the receiving end of a hail squall …. But our weather is not all storms, and we have lovely fine clear still days as well. As always our weather is quite changeable.

Our winter vegetable garden, mostly fallow under pea straw, but with a good crop of carrots, parsnips, brocolli, silver beet, kale and  and brustsle sprouts

Our winter vegetable garden, mostly fallow under pea straw, but with a good crop of carrots, parsnips, brocolli, silver beet, kale and and brussle sprouts

Iris’s Gardening.

Iris is a great believer in low maintenance gardening, as over the summer her time to garden is limited, and  she has 4 she looks after. So winter is when she is able to really enjoy her gardening, and for me it’s mulching up for compost all the garden waste she produces. With our own waste plus much of the lawn clippings the local contractor gets from the village open spaces (well fertilised with duck droppings… a bonus ) we produce around 5 cubic metres each year. Pruning and generally giving everything a good haircut is high priority, and in previous years each winter I would have a project aimed at making our vegetable garden more user friendly through terracing, thus reducing the slope…… all with an eye on making life easier as we get older and slower.

 For Me

New headboards drying in our sunroom.  Having central heating cuts drying time from a week or more down to a couple of days.

New headboards drying in our sunroom. Having central heating cuts drying time from a week or more down to a couple of days.

Winter for me is when I have the time to work on our web site, and on a couple of others I am webmaster for. And every couple of years I rebuild the DVD we give our guests

We think keeping both “fresh”  is important.  And solving the problems that come with these projects certainly keeps my brain from atrophying completely.

Building things

Iris will tell you that there are worse carpenters in the world than me … but not many.
But the last few years I’ve managed to complete several projects quite satisfactorily. Last winter while Iris was in Europe I built several sets of drawers to utilise kitchen space that was otherwise inaccessible. And this year I am almost finished building a set of bed heads for our bed. Using Australian hardwood as frame, and local rimu which we had left over for the centre of the boards. They are just about finished and are in our sun room (no guests in the winter allows this) where I am doing the final oiling. Iris is happy enough with the result she wants another set for our daughters place.

 

The Tui Wars Watching the pecking order amongst Tui, let alone the ongoing issues with Tui trying to drive kaka away, and the Kaka just winding the tui up is always entertaining. We  still have several banded tui coming to our table. They were banded by Sarah Wells and assistant Mithuna Sothieson in September 2009

The Tui Wars
Watching the pecking order amongst Tui, let alone the ongoing issues with Tui trying to drive Kaka away, and the Kaka just winding the tui up is always entertaining. We still have several tui coming to our table who were banded by Sarah Wells and assistant Mithuna Sothieson in September 2009

Our Feathered Family

We both get lots of amusement watching the birds who come into our bird table for the sugar-water, fruit and bird seed Iris puts out. The interplay between tuis (very aggressive, they don’t even like each other, let alone the kaka) kaka, who are great fun and very social with each other, but who delight in tormenting the tuis. Bell birds who are quite shy with the others and will only come if no other birds are around, and an occasional wax eye. A few years ago we would have flocks of 20 or more wax eyes feeding, now seldom more than a couple. No idea why !!

We also have a resident family of over weight black birds. Iris feeds them all sorts of things, but they love cat food. Amazingly tame, they will generally only move if directly under my feet.

And Books …..

Or rather the modern version. Some years ago our children gave us an iPad, and encouraged us to buy ebooks, as we both enjoy reading. But I resisted as I felt that I needed the physical book in my hand. But one wet weekend, with absolutely nothing in the house I hadn’t read several time I gave in, and downloaded an author I liked. And never held a paper book for over 18 months. And Iris now has her Kindle, and like me finds winter a time to sit inside on those wet days and enjoy our reading. And not a tree sacrificed to do it.