One of the first things that I fell in love with down here in New Zealand, other than E, was the sky. It’s one of those visceral feelings that you get when you first get off the plane and look up, especially on a mostly clear but still fluffy cloudy day. There is just so much sky up there. And the color of the sky is so amazingly crisp. And the clouds are so very close. So very close. At times it really does feel like you can reach up and touch them.
Now true, there are trees everywhere, and the land itself is so very green it could probably give Ireland a run for the money. There are mountains and valleys, and parklands as far as you can see, with old stately trees reaching to the sun, their trunks thin and twisty. But you look at them, even with the moss growing on the branches, and the multitude of wildlife and birds that you’re not used to and once again your eyes are drawn up and up and up to the sky.
It goes on for seemingly ever. particularly if you’re standing at the top of a hill. You can see everything on a clear day. Sure, there are trees and hills and houses all around you, and the occasional tall office building, but all around that, there is sky. And on some days, the color of the sky is unreal, unimaginable. You sit and you look at it and somewhere in the back of your internet filled mind you think to yourself, “This has to be photoshopped”. But it’s not! The sky really is that brilliant azure blue that you only usually see in children’s drawings and tourism guides. And the clouds.
The white fluffy cumulus clouds that we learned about in high school. The ones that mean fair weather, but could turn to storm clouds as well. They are huge. Fluffy and white and they go on forever. They feel so very low, but they are still the same clouds that you know are not the lowest point (nimbus clouds hover lower if I remember correctly. And of course Fog). But they are just so very close. And so very dramatic.
That’s right, fluffy bunny clouds are dramatic. The way the light hits them, the way the curvature of the moisture has formed. There is always a new way for the light to play against the clouds, and it does. The air is cleaner down here, and the sky brighter, and the clouds more impressive.
I was driving over the Harbor Bridge the other day, well ok I was riding on the bus, and I looked out my window over the harbor and towards the city. The skyline for downtown Auckland still causes me to catch my breath at times. Something about it is just so very breathtakingly beautiful. I don’t know if it’s just the SkyTower, or if it’s because the city practically rises up straight from the water, or because of the magnificent vast stretches of sky behind it. Or if it’s some combination of the above. But there it is again, the sky. Any direction you look, it goes on forever. I’ve heard people make these comments about Montana or Wyoming, but having never been there, I can’t make my own judgements there.
I can tell you that on a sunny spring or early summer day, when the weather is just right and the clouds oh so perfectly fluffy white and the sky is that cerulean blue that is considered to be almost perfect, on those days, it really does feel like nothing else in the world could compare to this place at that time.
Of course then the storm clouds move in and it begins raining buckets on your head, but that is going to happen anyway because we live on an island.
But rain! What about the rain? Yes, we should talk about the rainclouds, the way they sweep in across the land and how if you know what direction you are facing, you can watch the storm systems moving towards you. You can see the clouds forming and building and racing across the atmosphere, and even on a cloudy day where everything is overcast, there is still drama in the sky. The clouds build in layers upon themselves, and there are still shapes and forms amongst them. And every now and then you get a spot in the clouds where the sun has broken through and there is glorious light cast upon everything. And you can see the storm above your head and to your east, but to the west, there is sunny skies, and that beautiful blue sky. Even as the clouds are racing overhead and you can feel the rain seeping into your skin, you know, there are sunny days still to come.
So while I love this county, and I do love this country, and I love the trees and the wildlife and the people. But the one thing that never fails to amaze me is the sky. Photos don’t do it the true justice, since they only capture that moment. To truly appreciate the New Zealand sky, you have to live it, watch it, be drenched by it, and then be dried by it.
One more thing that I love about New Zealand.