A Welcome Home Song


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.

The New Zealand Tui, endemic to this country
The New Zealand Tui, endemic to this country.

5 thoughts on “A Welcome Home Song

  1. Well, there’s nothing that will make you feel like home more than winter. As you curl up and hunker down to welcome the season, you will look for what warms you, and that is always “home.” I look forward to reading more from you as you “acclimate” yourself to being back “home.”

    1. Thanks, Susan. I have to admit that even though I’ve only been back in NZ for a couple of weeks, Vietnam sometimes feels like a distant heaven. But Wellington is beautiful during the change of season – actually one of the more beautiful places I’ve ever been no matter what season it is. It’s tough to remember during transition times (aka while on the job hunt), but I am lucky girl. Gotta let this place inspire me, like Vietnam did!

  2. Thank you MaiLynn, from Jennifer and I. It is the most beautiful and moving prose I have read in a long while. What a gift is yours!

    1. Wow, thank you very much for your kind words, Errol. It means quite a lot coming from you!

      I hope you, Jennifer and the rest of the family are bundled up, happy and warm and that we will all get to catch up soon.

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