In our first week before attending the workshops we travelled to the north of the northern island of New Zealand, including the famous Bay of Islands area. After the workshops I felt I could not leave New Zealand without going to Rotarua, the area that is very geo-thermally active. The geyser called Pohutu was astonishing, the roar of boiling water being shot 20 meters in to the air was really loud.

These phenomena are totally bizarre to someone who comes from a part of the world that is not volcanically active. (I'm on the right, propped against the fence in the photo' below.)

As well as this we saw puddles of hot mud bubbling (more like plopping). I was completely amazed at a single smallish pool of clear water about one and a half meters across that was boiling vigorously. 
There are many ways that nature speaks to us, sometimes it is majestic like mountains and the huge ancient trees we had seen on the northwest coast. At other times it is so unexpected and difficult to imagine that it is hard to describe.
After Rotarua we went to the Coromandel Peninsula where we were able to go walking in the bush.

There were lots of cicadas and this large black dragonfly.

At the third day of the workshops with Mrs Maeda we had to do a nageire arrangement from book 3 or 4 in the morning. I decided to make a work of mass and line having come across these beautiful blue hydrangeas at the local supermarket. Although it is not apparent in the photograph there are two flower heads in the work. So I can claim to have formed a mass. The line is an inverted camelia branch secured on a vertical fixture. (I rushed out to get it as the branch I had initially chosen was much too fine for the bulk of the hydrangea.) Maeda Sensei approved of the arrangement but by way of correction suggested that the right hand half of the vase should be completely free of material and the water should come all the way to the top of the vase.

The afternoon exercise was any book 3 or 4 moribana, preferably a combination of exercises. There was a unison intake of breath (and feeling of ‘Uh oh!) when Sensei announced that we had strictly 15 minutes only to complete our work. I had found some exceptionally strong stems of agapanthus the day before, from which I had removed all the seeds. I realised there was no time for experimenting and was very relieved when a colleague kindly lent me some pins to secure the stems. My arrangement was: no kenzan, using one kind of material and showing lines at the base.

Maeda sensei said the work was beautiful, ‘kireina’. Her points of correction were: that the stems on the left should be in a line, this correction was already made before the photo’ above was taken. Also one of the stems should arise more toward the centre of the suiban so that not all of the stems are against the side walls.

This angle gives a better feeling for the curving lines in two of the agapanthus stems.

I really enjoyed my time in New Zealand and at the workshops in particular. The Auckland Branch of the Sogetsu Teachers Association have every right to feel proud of the event they hosted.

Bye the bye, I have been advised that the silver leaf I used last week is Astelia. (Chathamica, I think). 

Greetings from Christopher (back in Torquay)
25th February 2012

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