I write this on the last night of the first week. I want to address some points that I’ve failed to mention in previous posts.
Overall, we cannot complain about this. Our first few days gave us a bit of a shock, since we’ve had so much unseasonable sun and warmth this past month. Conversely, these Southern Hemisphere end-of-winter days were cool with alternating bits of grey and sun. I frantically tossed aside the tank tops and shorts that we’d been wearing exclusively these past thirty days, and dug until I found our long-sleeves, sweaters, hoodies and long pants. And where did I pack the socks?!? (We’ve since found them all.) I was regretting only having two sweaters and having ditched my ratty, first-thing-in-morning sweater back in Cambridge. But we only had 50 lbs per suitcase and ratty items did not make the cut. Mostly, we’ve just been acclimating to the cold house, although we knew this was coming. We’ve got these great big windows and these wonderfully high ceilings and little insulation. So on those first few days, we bundled up after first waking up and put on the wall heater in the big living room/kitchen. But I can say that I’m no longer afraid of the cold mornings. We all have slippers now. And I’ve converted one of my two sweaters into my new first-thing-in-the-morning sweater. And I start the day with a cuppa (tea). But despite our acclimation, I feel like the bone-chilling days in a cold house are ones we won’t know for months and month, since the weather has already hinted at the warm days to come. Today, and late yesterday were downright gorgeous, even summery. And just today, by mid-morning, I’d started opening up windows and by evening, we had windows open in much of the house.
I was pleasantly surprised by the lush vegetation greeting us here in Gissy. I know, I know… this is New Zealand. Overall, I figured the country would have beautiful greenery. However, the Google Street View Tour we took a few months ago, clicking our way up and down the main street, across the river, passed some houses on streets on which we thought we might like to live, (thankfully!) it was pretty misleading. We didn’t see much in the way of tall trees. We were expecting a town with young trees and short shrubs, what I secretly feared would amount to underwhelming and even depressing surroundings.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. There are wonderfully tall, arching trees of all sorts. (I’ll get to know the names of some of these, but for the time being, please forgive my ignorance.)
There are the evergreen trees that border the beach.
There are thick-trunked, low-kneeling, perfect-for-climbing, big-canopied trees.
There are tall, bleach-white and papery-trunked trees.
The sloped shoreline of the river that runs behind our house is a veritable jungle, a tangle of bamboo, big trees just now coming into bloom after winter, tall stalks of strikingly white flowering plants, trees and plants with hard, plastic-like leaves, and others that drop these delicate, lacy white flowers all over the grass, and, especially visible from the other side of the river, these trees that look like giant pieces of broccoli.
The most noticeable vegetation on our property, at the moment though, is the towering grapefruit tree in our driveway that is positively laden with ripe fruit, as well as the rose bushes that border the driveway and front corner of the front yard. And I haven’t even mentioned the palm trees!
Some impossibly tall and straight palm trees, some short, squat and full ones, some majestic ones.
I’m glad to report that Gis is very easy on the eyes.
But specific to Gis, there’s Kaiti Hill, which we hear has a nice hiking trail to the top. We didn’t make it up there during our first week; however we hope to get up there soon. (We Are Pococks! We Will Climb It!) There are also hills on the North edge of town, which I’ve yet to drive around; however they provide a nice backdrop: round and green with trees. There are the two main rivers that cut through town (one of which borders the back of our place), and which meet up before draining out to Poverty Bay, and the Pacific beyond. At the moment, the tide is low and continuing to pull out to the ocean.
Each morning, the waves move toward the bay and so the banks of the rivers are sandy and weedy. We await seeing what the rivers look like at high tide.
At the moment, the beach is lined with tangles of bleached driftwood, a winter’s worth of branches ripped loose from storms and washed ashore.
Apparently the city lugs all of this away before the beach season starts. However, it doesn’t hinder our use of the beach.
Especially with the low tide, there’s plenty of room for people to walk with their dogs, families to play in the sand, and for people like me to run a few miles out and back. And of course, the city’s beach isn’t even the most spectacular beach around. We drove past Wainui Beach, what some people (locals, specifically our friend Dennis) call the most surfed beach in the world, during our driving lesson. I’ll have pictures of this the next time we drive along this winding and breath-taking road.
For the moment, that’s my first impression of our new town. More to come about our character-filled house! Stay tuned…