Readers may remember that about a month ago I left Sonoma Patch in the hands of Christian Kallen so that I could return to my homeland, New Zealand, for a family visit.
It's spring in New Zealand and it was so beautiful there that I couldn't help but take photos and video to share with all of you. I've visited the country every few years since coming to live in the United States 32 years ago. I usually visit Auckland, the country's largest city. This time, I also took in the coastal Bay of Plenty.
New Zealand's profound beauty is deeply etched in me and still amazes me each time I go. It's about the smell of the soil after the rain, plus the ethereal nature of the Maori songs—some of which recall long voyages across the Pacific centuries ago. It's about the changeable maritime weather—which blows fresh air into everyone's faces and can carry away your hat and "brollie"—and the subtropical rain that leaves everything so clean, green and wild. The song of the tui and bellbird from the trees, even in mid-city parks, is so sweet.
More images of Auckland will appear this week on Sonoma Valley Patch. Stay tuned to see spring lambs and calves in a favorite park—which is a working farm— plus photos from a few beaches and some shots from Auckland city waterfront and university.
These are my old "stomping grounds."
"Cheers," as they say Down Under. Oh, and see if you can guess the sounds people hear on arrival at the airport (in the video). Tell us in the comments.