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The University of Canterbury’s Sustainibility Club goes by the name of Kakiriki. They do a variety of things and if you recall they are the ones who hosted the permaculture workshop. This past weekend they had a potluck friday night and did some volunteer work on Quail Island saturday.

Sunken Ships of Quail Island in Littleton Harbour outside of Christchurch, NZ

The potluck on Friday had an interesting premise. Since it was friday the thirteenth we were to dress up ‘in our scariest dress’ and rather than bringing a dish we were to bring an ingredient and then the group would cook something yummy. I had no Idea how to dress, and my trip to the second-hand store provided little inspiration (I found a pair of shiny purple jeans though…). I decided to dress up as genetically modified corn, just wear lots of yellow basically, and then had the idea of bunching up yellow shopping bags to imitate corn kernels. Kinda worked… I was more a wako yellow-bag superhero. I finished my costume off by wrapping my green tarp around my legs as the corn husks.

I biked through the light rain, en costume, and stopped by a vegetable store I had wanted to check out. Descent prices and I grabbed some avocados thought I thought people would like to augment my contribution of carrots. Not many people showed up, and the costumes were a bit lackluster. Gabby managed to turn herself into a very frightening dumpster dweller using some shredded curtains from a dumpster. For food we had: carrots, avocado, strawberries, carrots, silverbeat… yea and then from the house we used staples and tofu. We decided to make a vegan quiche. and while that cooked we baked some crackers to go with the avocado. cracker making was like christmas cooking cutting, I made a horsee!

So we dined, and chatted. And did some face painting, some scary some benign – all beautiful. crackers (with sesame seeds) were a success. We started snacking on the strawberries. And then the quiche was done and a splendid blend of carrots onions and silver beat. For dessert a Carrot cake appeared which was exceptionally moist and Delicious! we didn’t bother cutting it and just ate fork fulls.

Saturday and I woke up late, jammed breakfast and lunch together and got to the UCSA building late to carpool to the ferry for quail island. We drove to littleton, which took much longer than I thought, but made the ferry that took us out to the island in littleton bay. On the island we gathered tools and went to a little vale of native brush which was planted 10 years prior. We were filling gaps that hadn’t survived. Dig a hole, plant a flax or other native plant (whose name I forget), cover with a scrap of rug. Flax goes in the very wet, another in somewhat wet and the third plant went on the drier slops of the vale, plus another mix of plants went in to add diversity. It was beautifully sunny and I was afraid of getting burned but enjoying the warmth. talked to a kiwi who had traveled to Brekenridge and done some of the best skiing of his life. Another person, native of South Africa, had been to Colorado and skied with people from france who said they had the best snow of their life at winter park. cool stories to hear, and makes me miss skiing. We also planted in a drainage, on a rocky slope by the sea. more rocks than soil there and we had to poke around a lot before finding places to plant.

0814101439-00We finished around 2-230 and had until 330 to explore the island. A cove nearby had about 6 sunken ships, steel ribs poking out of the water. The tide was low and we wandered around and in the ships. Crabs fleeing into their holes, mussels everywhere, poking anemones and watching them cringe. Shoes sinking into the mud as the tide came in. The trail goes around the island and we enjoyed a leisurely walk back in the sunshine, at one point you could almost walk to a peninsula reaching into the bay had the tide been even lower. Past a quarry, some old huts that housed lepers and quarantined the sick in the first half of the 20th century, and past a beach to the jetty. There I watched the tide, caressing rounded rocks and fitting pebbles in grooves on the rocky slab shore.

Leaving on the Ferry I talked to Colin. He’s older and started the reforestation effort on Quail island. In the 70’s he did research in Colorado developing techniques for dating avalanche events based on evidence in the forest (he’s a botanist). He spent a bit in Boulder and then was up in Silverton and had the good fortune to enjoy all the beauty of southwest Colorado; and to see so many mammals. Mammals are none native to NZ and so you don’t really see any in the bush, no squirrels, bunnies, pika, or moose etc.

That evening we had another little potluck where Julie cooked the mussels she/we gathered at the sunken ships. I dont know if I like em, I ate em, but the wheat and white sauce was no good for me.