Plum Pigeon

After our chilly start to spring (cold wind, rain, sleet and snow) September 8th was much better, a gloriously fine day and I lost no time getting a load of washing ‘done and hung’. End-of-day I trudged out to the line to get the washing, enjoying the melodious sounds of tūī song as I filled my basket. I became aware of a spring scent in the air and looking around noticed our nearby plum tree covered in white blossom. And behind the blossom I saw a native (endemic) kererū or New Zealand pigeon.. sitting on a branch, very plump and contented, quietly pecking at stuff. I couldn’t see if it was eating flowers or young leaf buds. *tūī is similar to saying phooey.. too-ey.. a very pleasing bird name!

I’d no idea it was there so I was delighted to get such a close look. Pigeons have a white breast with a ‘strap’ of white over each shoulder like they’re wearing a singlet (vest). Easy to miss seeing them if they’re still and behind white blossom.

I didn’t take a photo on 08 Sept but the pic below is cropped from a photo I took this afternoon when I was excited to find a courting couple hanging around the same plum tree with an occasional foray to a nearby pear tree.. the girl was playing hard-to-get, I think!

The next day, 09 Sept, we had a treat in store for Tapanui because J&K Rolling were to visit from Dunedin to share poems with us at the library, also offering an open mic session. With that in mind I decided to try and write a poem about my surprising and wonderful pigeon encounter. After intense thinking and writing, evening and morning, I just managed to produce a poem in time to read at the open mic!

I persevered because ‘K’ of J&K is Kay McKenzie Cooke whom I first met via the blogosphere. Kay’s poems are really great, and often reference places I know well. Her way of describing familiar places or experiences often take me by surprise and delight me – she’s really got a ‘way with words’.

An Offering of Washing
~by Liz Cowburn

Winter set in — in early spring,
doubled down
with days of cold and sleety rain
and even snow.

Yesterday though,
it felt like spring.

In worship of the lovely weather,
I made an offering
of … washing.

Which spring was pleased to bless
with warmth and breeze,
’til end of day when trees throw shade.

And yet, the blessings stayed!

While filling my basket to the brim,
an unseen tūī sang a hymn
and incense filled the air —
from plum tree standing near.

Within its cloud of pure white flowers,
a plump and welcome guest,

simply dressed,
white singlet, freshly pressed;

quietly whiled away the hours,
contentedly feasting on the flowers.

And all the while,
I’d had no idea
of the pigeon’s presence,
though so near.

J&K Rolling. Jenny Powell (L) / Kay McKenzie Cooke. Tapanui Library, 09 Sept 2022.

Truly inspiring duo, so very grateful for their visit.

Kay’s latest book of poems (2020) with the best & brightest cover of all time, is Upturned. Cover is Vines by Michael D. Cooke … Kay’s very creative artist son.

Upturned is available from The Cuba Press for NZ$25.00

I love my copy! ~pic taken in our local cafe last year by Nigel.

Text by Liz, photos 1,2 by Liz, the third by Nigel; Exploring Colour (2022)

20 thoughts on “Plum Pigeon

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  1. This poem is lovely, Liz. It really does capture the spirit of spring and of that moment. As I was reading it, I was transported back to my childhood, when we did not have a dryer and would hang out washing on several clotheslines. I love that you were able to capture the singlet of the pigeon, perched so coyly amid the blossoms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mike! You’ve thought up the perfect word for this pigeon – she did indeed look coy! Such a sweetie. The apparent suitor was back in the tree again this afternoon ardently keeping her company 🙂


  2. What happy encounter(s), Liz. And how wonderful that it inspired you to compose a poem. I particularly liked:
    “While filling my basket to the brim,
    an unseen tūī sang a hymn
    and incense filled the air —
    from plum tree standing near.”
    It captures the moment perfectly.
    Happy spring, happy rhyming,

    Liked by 1 person

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