This morning, alarm set for 5.30, I woke at 5.25 and quickly dressed then set up the small video camera out on the verandah. My voice recorder too.
Last night, Gert and I had prepared both pieces of equipment for this morning, wanting to capture something of New Zealand's dawn chorus on video and audio here in Manapouri, Fiordland.
I miss the birds in Belgium. I miss the Bellbirds and the Tuis. I miss the familiarity of the birdsongs I've grown up hearing, consciously or unconsciously, and I wanted to try recording something of them.
Gert offered up his video camera so that I would have a little bit more memory and it turns out that our cabin, here on Hunter and Clare's property in Fiordland, looks straight out across a tree-filled landscape and on out to the mountains in the distance.
I was hoping for a bit of a sunrise video too but that was a little problematic, as the early morning cloud didn't burn off till after 8am.
So there I was, siting out on the verandah, with the equipment (such as it is) as all those trees … the cabbage trees most specifically, quietly exploded with the sounds of 100s of bird voices welcoming the new day.
It was like a wall, or perhaps being enclosed in a bubble, of familiar sound … a sound that I love.
And the air, have I written of the air here?
Fiordland's air is one of the sweetest in the world, to me. I sniff it like a wine connoisseur might smell a wine. It seems to be a mix of grass and stones, of the cabbage trees in flower, the beech forests that cover the land/ But more than that, here on the property, there are eucalyptus trees and all kinds of others too.
The most dominant scent out there was the sccent of water on river stones …or that was my interpretation. Over breakfast, just now, Clare explained that the watertable here is high and so perhaps I can smell the water just under the land I'm walking.
But I love water. New Zealand water, in all its forms. The Tautuku bush walk after or during rain. The smell of sun-warmed wet river stones. The sea. The torrential downpours that fall here in the South Island's rainforest country.
Then there's the quality of the light. It has caught me this time. Belgium has a high population density and the European traffic that flows through my adopted country means that I long for the sweet clean air of places like Fiordland … that place I spent two years living back in the 90s.
Gert and I squint when the sun is out. We are stunned by the light on these exquisite landscapes and, this morning, watching the morning light gently unfold … that has been something rather beautiful.
My senses are so enjoying this homecoming …