So long 2012. I feel like I should sum up the year, but I won’t. Because my only New Year’s resolution is to do more of what I know I must, rather than sweating what I suspect I should.
An entire ecosystem lives in the giant canopy of a healthy Kauri tree. Including a jeweled gecko in those epiphytes that lives nowhere else in the world.

Today I saw one of the oldest living creatures on the planet: a four-thousand year old Kauri tree. Our intrepid guide Stan said that there are likely older, bigger trees that the Maori haven’t told us about, but we satisfied ourselves with Te Manua (Grandfather of the Forest) and Tane Mahuta (God of the Forest). The grandfather tree is older—Tane Mahuta is likely only two or two and a half thousand years old. Christ was born around the same time as Tane Mahuta.

Which one is more likely to be the son of god? And according to whose criteria?

It is hard not to think about last New Year’s eve: sick in my bed on Tenerife. Tonight I was not sick, but was still far from home, wherever that is.

DAY 5 Photo set

On the road back from dinner, we saw six possums. They looked sleek. Stan said we could expect any kiwis we might see to look skinny and sickly as a result. (I didn’t see any, though he’s still out looking for them as I type this at 12:30 am into the New Year.) We see the possum damage in the tall tops of Eucalyptus trees—turned from canopies to broomsticks.

Walking back after dark through the bush is an excellent adventure in fear. It’s about ten minutes from the lodges that all of the other students are staying in en masse to the small cabin that Claire, the TA, and I are sharing. The only sound is that damn owl and the crunch of gravel. I wear a headlamp, but it bounces against black on black shapes that move in a small breeze. The way you tell yourself over and over again that it is okay to be afraid, but it is not okay to let that fear make you run.