The tangled tree in my front yard is alive.
The winter is coming and the wind is blowing its southerly whispers, sending icy secrets into the world. But the tree will not listen.
It’s not blooming anymore.
I missed most of its bursts of coral flowers this year — busy sweating and wandering around the streets and white, sandy beaches half way around the world from here.
Now, except for a few clusters of green leaves and shriveled buds, the tree’s branches are bare.
But in between its messy, twisted snarls, New Zealand life sings.
A Tui, with a cotton ball chin and feathers the color of the midnight sea under moonlight, is clicking, clacking and whistling at a handful of small house sparrows through his beautiful accent.
I heard him before I saw him. My ears knew straight away.
He is busy, this boy. Chatting and dancing from branch to branch, and picking at the tiny bit of nectar the tree still has left to give.
I think of all the other times I’ve seen Tuis diving in and out of the treetops of my neighborhood’s backyard forest. And how I always stand there with my head tipped straight back, watching and waiting for them to sing and soar over my head again and again, feeling so lucky that I am in the presence of these winged natives.
It must mean something big if I can watch these creatures, listen to their songs, and know who they are. That it feels like home, seeing one of them now in my front garden.
I give New Zealand grief sometimes. But I know my winds, the seasons of my tree, the birds that flutter in and out of her arms. I know this place and in this moment, we both belong to each other.