Tag Archives: seasons

A review of the book: “Sanctuary – the discovery of wonder” by Julie Leibrich


A winter virus gave me “a space”, Sanctuary, to read this book from beginning to end. Prior to this I had dipped in and out of it and had thoroughly enjoyed titbits and contemplating the photographs.

But this big book of 226 pages and 172 references is a rich, deep, satisfying and stimulating read. It was a decade in the writing and covers much of the author’s life experiences.

It is a well ordered book that circles from the first section: “Wondering about Sanctuary”, to “Illuminating Sanctuary”, to “Protecting Sanctuary” to “Wonderment of Sanctuary”.

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I doubt there was a page in Julie’s book where I was not drawn in, encouraged to wonder, to absorb or marvel or question.

Her home on the Kapiti Coast is where my newly widowed mother sought sanctuary, in her new home and environment for the remaining 15 years of her life. The beach, the sea, the birds, the sky and the looming guardian of Kapiti Island are strong links to me and my understanding of this special environment.

The section of Julie’s book where she writes about a poetry course she ran for people suffering from the effects of stroke, Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease, I found particularly poignant. No matter our age or physical condition, our soul remains a sanctuary.

Not only did I find this immensely reassuring but also a wonderful example of compassion. To take time, to give careful attention to detail and to offer attentive presence, gave rise to illuminations from these peoples’ spirits.

The book is full of detail, research, images, references, journal entries, poetry, anecdotes, peoples’ thoughts and experiences. Julie’s writing skills are exemplified in her in-depth exploration of words, concepts, beliefs and experiences.

The thoughts and contributions of Julie’s friends and acquaintances sit easily among those of influential writers and thinkers across the ages. Sanctuary is not the domain of the highly trained, specialised or profoundly learned and wise; it is for every one of us as human beings.

Sanctuary (from the Latin “Sanctus” meaning Holy) can be found anywhere and in limitless ways. It is not limited or definitively prescribed. As the title “the discovery of wonder” indicates  – discover what works for you, what gives you inner space. The cover of the book is a contemplation on this very issue.

I found this book to be one I want to own so that I can return to it again and again for my own personal and spiritual understanding and development.

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Note: For an in depth review of Julie Leibrich’s book that I enjoyed reading go here:

The froth and fizz of spring

Our neighbour has a flowering cherry tree alongside the footpath. It has looked a picture for a few days now and with inclement weather upon us I was determined to get out and see what I could record with my camera before the elements bruised and battered the beauty too much.

The tree is simply a mass of flowers and the scent strong and sweet. A Tui was enjoying the nectar but gave me a merry chase and managed to stay mostly out of sight.
The Tui appears as a black object in the centre of this image.
The wind was blowing about and the light glarey but sometimes that can work.
It has been an excellent day for blogging, not so good for enjoying photography.

Making the bed

With a storm full of rain predicted to hit our area tomorrow I decided to get out and make the bed in preparation for this year’s garlic crop.

Garlic crop 2011

I had forked the soil over a day or so ago while the sun shone on my back. Today I dug through a generous quantity of sheep pellets and added this sweet smelling, no cost maple leaf hummus and some stinky half rotted sea weed out of my seaweed tea bucket.

Once it has rained and soaked all these goodies deep into the soil I have some lime to add plus a sprinkling of bulb food. I will plant the garlic at the time of the shortest day.

Perhaps it will be consistently cold by then which assists in the growth of garlic cloves. Many of our spring bulbs are leaping out of the ground as the mix of warm days and some chillier ones continues.

While out in the garden before the storm force winds hit we gathered up a large plastic bag full of maple tree leaves to begin the slow break down process to provide us with even more leafy hummus next year. This year I added a good quantity of sheep pellets to ensure better decomposition.

Nature has provided well for the garlic bed this year.

No longer “in-waiting”

Our Japanese maple tree is no longer “in- waiting” for the autumn switch. The clear, crisp nights around and since the Super moon this week have seen a dramatic colour change on most of the tree and today the leaves are dropping in large numbers

At a glance, in the gloomy conditions today, the courtyard looks as if stars have fallen to earth.

It is as if the maple tree was like its owners, determined to hold on to any last vestiges of the Indian summer, but nature always wins and the seasonal shift is well underway now.

Flowering cherry trees in their autumn tonings

Some years ago now a wonderful decision was made by our local city council. In recognition of Porirua’s Sister City relationship with Nishio City in Japan, a grove of flowering cherry trees was planted on grassy reserve land near our local school and kindergarten.

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This grove of trees brings such simple but profound pleasure to so many residents and visitors as the trees cycle through the seasons. Last spring the flowering was prolific and the lack of wind meant the blossoms were not ruined. In summer it is a shady, leafy spot for children to play or picnic under and for dogs to enjoy sniffing about on their daily walk.

Autumn brings a dramatic colour show with the trees now large and spreading. We have been enjoying, actually reveling in an Indian summer since Easter and the nights have not been crisp and cold in the main. This has meant the leaves on these trees have not had the stimulation that causes strong colour changes. However nature is at work right now despite our “false” summer and the trees are well worth visiting to enjoy their autumn splendour.

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With storm force winds predicted for yesterday and through the night we decided to head down to the grove to capture some photos before the leaves were stripped off by the gales.

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The wind proved to be very “Wellington”. So strong I had trouble opening my car door against it and to walk into the wind required a certain lean that all Wellingtonians get teased about. It was nevertheless invigorating as swirls of fallen leaves from the many deciduous trees in that spot flew up and around us.

Such a large expanse of varied colour was a challenge to capture on humble digital cameras from ground level but we did our best.

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After being buffeted and blown about we returned home feeling utterly refreshed and “our cobwebs” blown away.