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Birds, Babies, and Rugby Balls

We are back in New Zealand and it is early summer. Our beautiful island is at its best with gardens overflowing with scents and the sounds of bees and the sea and sky deep blue against the white sand. Even better, there are very few people around and our beach is usually deserted. We have put up the fence along the edge of the dunes to protect the nesting birds; rare NZ dotterels and endangered if not rare oyster catchers. Usually the birds are obedient and make their scrapes in the sand—their nests—behind the fence, but sometimes they rebel and we find their eggs outside the fence. The fence is but a single strand of tape strung with notices about the birds, but it does the job and keeps surfers and other beach goers away from the nests. Dogs tend not to read the notices so we hope their owners keep them at home or at least on a lead if on the beach. Feral cats ignore the notices and the occasional egg is taken by a gull or hawk or sometimes by a storm tide. If three baby dotterels and three to five oystercatchers are fledged we will rejoice.

Late spring bought a new small person into our own family; our new grandson, Louie, now five weeks old. He was born in earthquake-torn Christchurch and along with the stunning gardens in Christchurch this spring (it is still the Garden City despite the sad state of the CBD) brings new hope to the restoration. New Zealand recently had some other good news, sorely needed. The All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, played every 4 years, and this time hosted in NZ for the six weeks of matches. In the final against France, as one Australian commentator put it, four and a half million Kiwis (the entire population) were sitting on the edge of their seats (many with their hands over their eyes) as their team fought the good fight and beat France by a single point! The general consensus in the international rugby word (with the understandable exclusion of France) is that New Zealand deserved to win (they last won the first Rugby World Cup 24 years ago) after years of almost winning it, and winning every other rugby accolade year in and year out. The mood throughout the country was definitely joyous the next day, and remains so two plus weeks on. We are now into the short (one month) build-up to our national elections and this political fight seems quite tame in comparison.
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