Thursday, August 03, 2006

Living on the Canterbury Plains

Southern Alps taken from moving car

I read a post from KnittingIris the other day about driving through the plains in America and it got me thinking about living on the Canterbury Plains. I have lived in Canterbury all my life - growing up on a mixed cropping farm in Mid-Canterbury, education followed by work in Christchurch and now I live in a small village outside the city but work in the city.

The great thing about Canterbury is that you can see for miles. There's often strong winds which clear the air so you can see the Southern Alps to the west and a huge shingle coastline to the east interrupted by Banks Peninsula. No matter where you are you can always orient yourself by the mountains or Port Hills (Banks Peninsula) so its hard to get lost. From my office which is on the slopes of the Port Hills, I can look out now towards the north and can see over the estuary to the plains, sea and mountains. How lucky am I?

You're a maximum of 1.5 hours away from the mountains or the sea, no matter where you live. I grew up going skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer. Looking back it was a great childhood but I have always known that.

Today I was just rung up by a friend who said that she has some work to do in the foothills of the Alps so why don't I join her & we'll do afternoon tea afterwards at Terrace Downs (I've mentioned this place before - its a favourite). Superb. This is why I love living here - its so easy to get away. You can decide that you want to go and stand on a mountain and an hour later you're doing it, breathing in all that fresh air and appreciating life.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say. I think its along the lines of so many people think the plains are boring and they are when you're driving in a car on the main road from point A to point B, but there's so much more to them. The patchwork pattern of all the paddocks - you really know you're home when you fly over the Southern Alps and see the plains spread out. The joy of standing in a grass paddock in the summer and hearing a skylark singing its heart out but not being able to see it (this is making me feel very nostalgic). Pukekos running around in the wetlands. The ease of biking every where. Big sky and the feeling of being able to breathe. Huge open space and being able to see the horizon. It always gives me a sense of freedom.


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