The daffodils appear, beautiful virginal children. There’s a patch on the museum site which never flower. Each year I avoid mowing them for a month, then run them over in frustration. Gaynor put me right. ‘Wait for them to wilt and turn brown before you mow them. You can hasten the process by gathering clumps of stalks together and tying a knot in them. Then, next season they’ll flower.’


Some balmy days gladden the soul. The blossom trees are blossoming, the first shoots appear on the apple tree, the willows have budded, the chooks are laying and kereru flop heavily from a tree as I walk down the track to the creek.

As I watch the leaders’ debates I realise again that when both sides are managing within a neo-liberal capitalist framework, government is as much about spirit as about policy. National, as led by Bill, are mean-minded, punitive and puritan ‘realists’. Labour, as led by Jacinda, are youthful, warm and want to be generous. National increasingly micro-manages those at the bottom. In their view, the dysfunction is their own fault. It’s time to insist that such people haul themselves up by their bootstraps, to start having goals, to get their kids meeting national standards, to wipe out the gangs and let the riches trickle down. Labour sees that the stress of poverty causes dysfunction. Behind Labour is the old socialist slogan: A better world is possible. For National the better world is here, you just have to persuade everyone to get it together enough to clamber onto the first rung of the ladder.

National aren’t great on smiles and they give me the creeps. Who would want to be mothered by Paula Bennett or Judith Collins? Or fathered by Steven Joyce or Bill?

Somewhere, lurking in the shadows, is the monster of climate change, towering over this family argument. No one dare mention it. It certainly hasn’t come up in the debates so far. Bangladesh and parts of India are under water; Texas is flooded, California and Spain are burning up, the sea level rises, Hurricane Irma… in this context generous or mean spirits are a laughable matter. The poor old Greens would like to bring it up, but they don’t want to be seen as negative. Metiria touched on a negative reality and got burnt. Negativity doesn’t win votes. So let’s love New Zealand and hope to hold on.

Down by the creek I find the perfect rock on which to stand and do the exercises. It allows a renewal of technical energy.

You can’t mow down the recalcitrant daffodils. Let them fall and wait a season.

Finally, If you really want a spiritual uplift watch this video based on a song and photos from the Spanish Civil War.