A Year in the Vineyard - January

As the weather warms up (be that a lowball of an understatement!), I almost feel the atomic energy in things speed up. I am busier, everyone I speak to is too busy, and a Christchurch woman at the Queenstown airport stated to her friend that she was looking forward to getting back to the city where things are calmer. If I didn’t live here, I wouldn’t have believed my ears. What exactly is it about the Lakes District? Why are we so motivated? We Whakatipians take on project after project, climb a higher peak, jump again at dawn into a hypothermic lake, squeeze in another party, saying Yes forgetting that No is an option (it is, isn’t it?). What invisible decibel do we vibrate at during the summer months that causes all this energy and movement? Physicists, please write in.

The grapes thrive in this heat. All the sunshine and warmth benefit the growth and advancement of these little hard green grape bunches. Right now the stage they are in is known as cell division. Slowly, cell by cell, day by day, they are getting bigger and bigger. The slow march is on to expand. The weather now will impact the size of the grape and the bunches, just as weather at flower set determines who gets to be a grape and who doesn’t.

Water is a very necessary element to survival here in Central. In years like this particularly, if irrigation was not installed or in working order or had a ready supply in emergency tanks, the vines themselves would suffer greatly and some not survive. It can be too dry for too long. Indigenous cultures in dry areas have been asked by anthropologists, ‘Why is it that all your songs are about water?’. The reply pointedly asks why our western cults sing so much about love. We invoke what we need. Now as many know, I’m not one for musicals. However for the time being, I will lay down my suspicion of people flapping about, belting out simultaneous tunes and will don my gumboots and mac and let rip ‘Singing in the Rain’! Afterall, we need it. Around the verdant vineyard, the grass has given up, young poplars on boney soil have turned yellow, and plants that thrive unchecked on the hillside-yarrow, vipers bugloss, mallow, clover- have checked out.

Today it is 7am on the last day in January, and a double rainbow arcs over the vineyard. Any other time this wouldn’t seem so mystical but I calculate that the vineyard has had only 5mm of rain this month and it wasn’t in the last 24 hours. There is clearly moisture in the atmosphere but it’s not generous enough to share. This rainbow is pretty still and has been displaying for at least 15 minutes and is elegantly being pulled to the south by unthreatening clouds. The heavy wisps on Ben Cruachan slowly lift and dissipate in preparation for another sweltering day.

On another note, it is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit.

While 2022 was the Year of the Tiger which highlighted change, this Rabbit year encourages slow, creative thinking- pacing in a healthy manner in which encourages success. I like the rabbit. Quiet, observant, tidy, reserving its energy to move with speed and power when necessary. These are helpful qualities to work with after a tumultuous change year.

Perhaps it is the Gibbston year of the Rabbit also. The population appears to triple every few weeks. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy this weather with an afternoon delight? Twice.