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Happy New Year and weather events!

The silly season is over and our children and grandchildren have gone leaving in their wake two electric toothbrushes (left by two separate families…), one piece of jigsaw puzzle, a CD of Christmas songs for toddlers, and a lot of fish bait in our freezer. This I have re-wrapped in three plastic bags as the smell of fish bait, however solidly frozen, somehow permeates everything near it. I would love to throw it out but it will apparently be used to catch some big fish in due course. Our vegetable garden is 10 feet high and finding anything specific in it is a journey of discovery; it is in sore need of a few long hours of weeding. But the sea out there is blue and warm and the sand golden and hot, and a lazy day on the sheltered sandy beach across the rocks, lying in the shade of a huge pohutukawa tree reading, dozing, and occasionally venturing into the water to float and dream, or even catching a wave or two at the main surf beach is irresistible.

In this hemisphere we have a very strong “La Nina” climate pattern this year, and just over the ditch -- as Kiwis and Aussies call the Tasman sea that divides them – hot Queensland and Victoria as well are drowning. Brisbane, Queensland’s beautiful capital city, has all but disappeared in places, and inland in the remote areas the flooding is much worse with many people drowned and others missing. Usually these areas are crying out for water, suffering droughts that go on for decades. In 2008 we had a mid-winter campervan trip into the outback, west of Brisbane, and came across one tiny settlement with a single pub and a few rustic houses in a vast landscape of dust, heat, hot blue sky and eucalypts. The main street was called “Twelfth Ave” and the only other street “Third Ave” and a prominent sign on entry to the town said “Water, Coming Soon, 2011!” On exiting the town was another sign saying “Winner, 2005, Town With The Best Attitude!” I think they now have their water, and can only hope that they, along with all our other Australian mates can hang onto their positive attitude to get them through this. I fear that this time “She’ll be right, mate,” won’t quite do it. “La Nina” is partly to blame for the floods but climate warming is probably a cause as well. And then there is Brazil and Sri Lanka: the list of countries in flood goes on. The extreme cold in the UK and Europe is another weather event we can do without. For decades the climate specialists have been predicting these dramatic weather events as the climate warms. When will we get the message? Let us make 2011 a year when we strive to reduce our individual carbon footprints more than just a little: refuse to buy heavily packaged goods, buy food staples in bulk and fresh food grown close to home -- or better still grow our own -- walk or cycle to work, turn off all those extra lights and electronic gadgets when we’re not using them, and do our dreaming somewhere other than the shower so the water flow can be reduced from 10 to 3 minutes. That said, Happy New Year!
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