Winter in Delaware means grayness. The fields and dirt are brownish-gray, the cloud-bound sky is slate-gray, flowerbeds and trellises and gardens that overflowed with color flatten out into grayness. Even the deciduous trees that brighten the landscape from March through October let me down once November arrives.
But in New Zealand, winter means GREEN!
Our host, a professor at UC (University of Canterbury), has traveled extensively in the states, and he laughed at our wonderment over the color of the landscape as he drove us from the airport to our house. “Yes, we were surprised at what we found in the states when we were there in the winter. It was so brown and gray. Here, in New Zealand, winter is green.”
We have not rented a car so our ramblings about town have been confined to the distance our kids can walk. There’s a grocery store about 1k away and several small parks that are easily accessible. Our house’s backyard literally abuts the schoolyard where Charlotte and Evelyn will attend.
We walked about 3.5 miles yesterday; part of our journey was to one of the two nearest community libraries. Thankfully we were able to get library cards–essential!–and the kids excitedly picked out a bunch of books to bring home. James ended up carrying the bag…
This morning when the sun came up (at 8am!!) I got to go for a run. Even though it’s clearly wintertime and the air smells cold and clear, it is the kind of weather I relish. Running friends, you know when you check the forecast for the week in January and you see a day that the high is going to be around 50 and the nighttime low is around freezing and you’re like, “YES THAT IS THE DAY I WILL DEFINITELY RUN”?
That’s been pretty much every day we’ve been here so far.
There is a lot of construction (you probably remember the major earthquakes of a few years ago here in Christchurch) and I’m obviously not familiar with the roads around here yet. But I found my way through part of campus and then over to the Ilam Gardens, which are full of meandering rocky trails and native plants.
Upon exiting the gardens I wound my way home, past the front of the elementary school near our house. About a dozen young boys in shorts and school jackets played soccer on a field, mist rising from their heads. Lots of young children, alone and in pairs, trod the sidewalks toward the building.
I spotted a friendly looking mom talking to the crossing guard right in front of school and decided to stop and say hello. I introduced myself and asked what time school starts. She explained that school starts at 9 so the first bell rings at 8:55 for students to be in their desks. It turns out that she is the PTA president and she filled me in on how to enrol and what the school atmosphere is like.
Fingers crossed we can get Evelyn and Charlotte both enroled there, and Cal at the nearby Early Childhood Education Center. I’ll let you know what happens after I meet with the principal later today.