Seasons

The Photo Gallery | The Longest Day

It’s normally at this time of year, in New Zealand, that I’m rugged up with a Pinot Noir, glaring at a flickering candle and wishing I was somewhere warmer. There’s a certain romanticism of tucking up and hunkering down for winter – but it wears off pretty quickly (unless of course there’s a ton of fresh powder snow on a mountain nearby!).

This year, I am in the northern hemisphere, seeing in the longest day, and feeling very appreciative of the sunshine, warmth and long daylight hours. I looked at my Facebook feed of updates from family and friends in the northern hemisphere with shared appreciation and not a shred of envy. Meanwhile, I looked at my southern hemisphere pals in New Zealand with admiration – as some were running marathons and half-marathons, others throwing themselves in the water at Lyall Bay for a mid-winter swim and some hitting the snowy slopes.

I suppose I could have thrown myself in the Pacific ocean for a swim, but went for a run instead. I finished up with a beautiful walk along the beach, at high-tide, getting splashed by the break waves hitting the rocks as I carefully made my way from Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach.

Santa Barbara beach to Butterfly Beach at high tide

I wasn’t alone on my walk. This beautiful pair of white heron were never more than ten yards from me. They kept a wary eye on me, not entirely pleased to be sharing their spot with a bumbling, bare-footed, human. I did try to channel my inner mountain goat spirit whilst scrambling over the rocks, but really didn’t look very graceful – although I managed to complete my walk without a twisted ankle, so that’s a result.

White Heron

I feel very fortunate to be here at the moment, knowing that when the daylight hours start to decrease toward winter, I shall be back in Wellington, New Zealand, just as summer approaches. I shall take the memories of this year in southern California with me, where the sky has almost always been blue and outdoor celebrations have rarely needed a ‘Plan B’. There were two summer-solstice weddings set up on the beach, with typical Californian confidence of the weather being good.

I love the light. I can cope with cold, wind and rain, but natural light is like water to my body and soul. It’s been great to have such a good dose of it this year! Definitely good for my health. 

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Joining in with ‘The Photo Gallery’ at Sticky Fingers, with this week’s theme of ‘The Longest Day‘.

Signs of Spring in Santa Barbara (where the seasons aren’t easily identified!)

This is my first experience of spring in Southern California. I’ve spent the past decade or so seeing in spring in New Zealand, whilst the northern hemisphere starts getting their autumn / winter fashions out and decking the halls with holly.

This will be the first time in several years that I’ll see Easter in the spring (obviously living in NZ meant celebrating in autumn – but there were still plenty of fluffy chickens, chocolate eggs and bunnies in the shops). It’s also going to be the year I see in my Birthday, my 40th no less, on Easter Sunday (all the more chocolate for me, mwah, ha, ha, ha!).

But I digress from the focus of this post, ‘Signs of spring in my neighbourhood‘ – the fifth prompt on ‘Mama Kats’ wonderful ‘Writer’s Workshop’ this week.

It’s from a balmy winter we have emerged into spring here in Santa Barbara. Winter was far removed from the northern hemisphere winter of my childhood growing up in England. There were no visits from ‘Jack Frost’ and ‘dragon breath’ days were absent. The only real signs of winter were the short days and a few deciduous trees that cooperated and dropped their leaves.

Spring has arrived without much of a fanfare, other than longer days bringing about more freedom to get out the house in the light evenings (a huge high point for me – a lover of light and being outdoors). There are daffodils aplenty for sale in the supermarket and blossom trees are trooping the colour. The ‘strawberry man’ – as my daughters call him – has returned, selling massive trays of strawberries for $12 out the back of his truck.

Rose in the garden

The swimming pool in the garden of the house we’re renting is almost plunge worthy, without needing to be heated, and there’s been a rare day or two of rain. There’s even been some wind, to remind us of windy Wellington and our home in New Zealand (the locals get quite panicked by it here in Santa Barbara, but it’s nothing compared to the flying trampolines, car doors being ripped out of out hands and near death – by self propelling wheelie bins – that we are used to experiencing in Welly!).

On the rare rainy days my children have exuberantly celebrated being able to dance in the rain, with an umbrella not being turned inside out in a nano second or propelling them Mary Poppin’s style through the air.

Spring rain a novelty in Santa Barbara

Humming birds visit the fruit trees in the garden and Monarch Butterfly have emerged from overwintering in the eucalyptus trees of the warm southern Californian coast. Lizards are showing their faces once again, basking in the sun on the rocks around the succulent beds. Miss 4 is following their movements closely, determined to capture one for a pet.

lizard in the garden

The difference between day and night temperatures are less extreme and we are getting our sporting mojo on (in order to counter balance the undoubtedly successful BBQ season to come). I’m off running most days, training for my first half marathon on 10 May, whilst the man of the house has joined a soccer team and is playing a couple of times a week. The children are as active as ever, barely sit down!

Getting our sport mojo on!

Love spring.

Love the return of the light.

Love the extra hours to get out and play, eat and drink! x

Mama’s Losin’ It