March miscellany

The rains were coming, unusually, and the peaches we’d  been monitoring  in the burning  sun for weeks were flushed and  ripe on  our neighbour’s tree.  She invited us to take as many as we liked  because she didn’t want the birds to snaffle these delights. Neither did we, and so in her backyard  Griff welcomed me and watched as I took to a loaded branch with a six foot bamboo pole. 

Wham!  A half a dozen peaches hit the grass below. Griff took three and left me with a mangy selection.  Not fair!   For a start he had four legs and was way quicker than any of us.   And anyway  since when  did  a dog – okay a very loveable  Lab –  start liking peaches? Well to him they were more than peaches –  like balls, they rolled temptingly down the section’s slope.

As the next harvest fell I yelled NO!  but  it didn’t help. He was winning and  so it went until …I growled a deep-throated disapproval. Griff hates  getting offside with people, especially ones who  play ball with  him.  And so the final score read: Griff 20, with a consolation prize lick. Me a bucket full. Things had just became peachy again for both of us.

A pun-minded friend about to undergo a colonoscopy,  recently received an all encompassing set of  pre-procedure instructions, which included this: ‘We will apply to Southern Cross on your behalf so need to  do anything from your end’… ( our italics). Bottoms up old chap!

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We seem to be all about summer fruit  this Miscellany but  it’s’ just   coincidence.  This  photo may look as if it has been photo-shopped, but  these rather  large runaways were  a determined bunch.

And anyway, sometimes a  fence just gets tired of  standing  there and  generally  getting in the way.

So  in this particularly  welcoming summer, it allowed these three  budding apples to  flourish in a  nearby backyard.

 

 

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Who cares about  grass – it’s  inoffensive and everywhere.  But the website Spinoff, signalled the beginning of what it said could be a thorny debate  about  New Zealand’s GE-Free status.

‘In particular, the topic in question is a type of rye grass currently being trialed in the USA, which when eaten by cows could reduce their methane emissions by up to 25%. New Zealand’s output of methane is a significant contributor to our total emissions, and the argument goes that finding ways to reduce that is the best contribution we could make to reducing global emissions. It’s also entirely in line with National’s approach to climate change policy, which they want to have minimal economic impact, and be primarily driven by science and technology, rather than cutting production’.

Coincidentally, a  powerful  book, The Moth Snowstorm  by British  author and environmentalist Michael McCarthy  mentions how rye grass and Farmer Giles have  damaged much of rural  England’s diversity.

All across England, rye grass fields began replacing the hay meadows and ancient grazing pastures which had been among the country’s great delights, as they were botanical treasure houses crammed with  wild flowers, such as  buttercups, red clover, yellow rattle, ox-eyed daisies….and many more, presenting an animated chaos of colour which could dazzle the eye. Abundance at its most enchanting. He added:  ‘It is thought that about 97% of them have gone now. In the rye grass which replaced them, there was but one species only: rye grass. It was green concrete as the phrase  has it.  It had been so heavily fertilised that it out-competed any plant; nothing else could  survive.  It was known as ‘improvement’ . 

Such  improvement he wrote, had damaged  not only wildflowers but a  wide variety of birds which foraged or nested in the meadows.  There’s  more to grass than we could  imagine but  hopefully that kind of ‘improvement’ won’t happen here.

In particular, the topic in question is a type of rye grass currently being trialed in the USA, which when eaten by cows could reduce their methane emissions by up to 25%. New Zealand’s output of methane is a significant contributor to our total emissions.

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What a week for The Donald who  left the Hell of Hanoi and his failed talks with Kim Jung Un, for the withering attacks in Washington from – well just about everybody who mattered.

Still de-cluttering  our house  here we came across a 1980 edition of  Time magazine and it showed  a striking Presidential  contrast in Newswatch essay by  Thomas Griffith who wrote: Already the Press is getting used to the way the  President-elect – at least before taking office – stays in seclusion, says nothing or prudently contents  himself with brief,  non-committal cameo appearances….”

 

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.