Rejection Specialist

I’m working on becoming “Rejection Proof,” taking inspiration from the book by Jia Jiang which I read over a year ago.  Twice. 

It’s such a foreign concept for me to make the experience of being rejected into a science project, and a humorous one at that.  Especially when the “skin thickening process” is like gaining tolerance to cold water or dirty diapers—tolerance comes only after multiple unpleasant exposures. 

The job search process ebbs and flows, and my optimism changes with it.  This week, after a couple negative conversations, I’m at a low point. 

This afternoon I sighed, closed the laptop lid, and moved outdoors to soak up the rejuvenating effect of the sunshine while tidying up the garden.  I reflected that Rejection comes in a few different flavours. 

  1. The Passive Rejection.  This is the job application I submit and never hear a thing about.  The unanswered emails.  I’d also put into this category the polite rejection of “I’m just a bit busy right now, how about I get back to you when I have more time.”  That time, of course, never comes. 

Objectively, I’ve experienced Passive Rejection 33% of the time with initiating email conversations, and 42% of the time with job applications.  Individual Passive rejections aren’t too bad, probably because they’re gradual.  By the time you’ve given up hope of hearing a response, 2-4 weeks might have passed. But reflecting on them as a whole can be discouraging.

2. The Polite Rejection.  HR managers are especially adept at this, in the form of automated emails.  “Thank you for your application, but after careful consideration we regret to inform you that your application has not progressed to the next stage of our process.  Although you were not selected for this particular position, you may be a fit for other roles within our organisation. We encourage you to register your interest for future opportunities on our career site.” In my albeit limited experience, those resume-submission portals are Black Holes that consume CVs and never release them.

25% of job applications have ended in a Polite Rejection. For anyone counting percentages, the remaining 33% of applications I haven’t heard a response from, but they could still fall into either category.

3. The [rare] Rude Rejection:  I happened upon a couple doozies yesterday. 

Here’s one for the books, responding to a polite email I sent briefly explaining who I was and why I was trying to better understand the Canterbury horticulture industry by having conversations with horticulture business owners like himself: “It’s a bit sensitive having someone who has contact with [your former company] coming in here.  Why have you recently finished working for them?  What would I gain from giving you my time?”  My politely crafted response got the Passive Rejection (no answer).

In a similar vein, I phoned an organisation whose website is advertising an app for crop growers, and I asked if they had a video-tour or brief example of the software in use so I could understand how it worked.  “Who are you?” I was so taken aback by the tone that I answered quite bluntly.  “I’m Molly…”  “But where are you from?” the interrogator continued.  She was means-testing me, and though I wasn’t sure of the currency, I was aware that I was broke.  “Christchurch,” I answered, realizing as I said it that I sounded like a city slicker, and my accent gives me away as a foreigner just as hers gave her away as a POM.  It was dawning on me that not being employed by a farming company was going to be a problem, as it turned out to be.  “Ok, well thanks anyway,” I chirped, and hung up quickly before I had a chance to say something I’d regret. The most ironic part? When I looked up the software name on you-tube, there was a freely available series of tutorials….

4. The [very rare] Enthusiastically Positive Rejection:  These are regrettably scarce, unfortunately, and I count them in the rejection category because they don’t lead to a job offer.  Still, I find them quite buoying, whether or not they are sincere.  “Be assured there is a need for workers in the seed industry, particularly people like yourself with your skills and qualifications.”  Or “I’d hire you, but we’re fully staffed right now.”  Or, my favourite: “Many companies NEED you – you possess skills that are rare and highly sought after, sometimes the people don’t realise it.” 

The danger comes when I start to believe the discouraging messages, the basic flavour of which is “You’re not good enough,” “You’re not valuable,”  “We don’t want you.”  If I believe that, it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  The negative messages are so much more sticky than the positive ones.

So here are some objective numbers to calibrate the last six week’s job hunting experience, as there have been many more helpful responses than negatives.

  • Of the 49 people I emailed to ask questions, 30 gave helpful responses.  16 gave no response, and three were negative. 
  • Of the 20 conversations I’ve had by phone and in person, I can only remember three that were negative. That means 85% were helpful and positive.

Am I Rejection Proof?  Not yet.  Am I gaining Rejection Tolerance?  Getting there. 

Gillespie Pass

I took a hike a couple weekends ago to Gillespie Pass. Though I mentioned the trip already, the epic scenery and ideal weather of the trip really merits its own trip report.

Gillespie Pass is at the top end of Lake Wanaka, a good six hour drive southwest from Christchurch (see red arrow). It’s a three day hike which we made into a four day-er by spending a day on a side trip to Lake Crucible, putting the tramp solidly outside the realm of a simple weekend trip.

We had originally planned this one for February 2020, when my sister Susanna was visiting. But foul weather to the south dictated that we change our destination last year, leaving Gillespie still on our to-explore list. Our original group had been winnowed down by a broken ankle and a pregnancy, so it was just Carrie and me on this adventure.

Most people do the hike from the Young valley over Gillespie and out the Wilkin, but we did it the opposite way (map days go red, orange, yellow, green).
We took a jet boat to start, replacing 4-6 hours of river valley trudging with a 45 minute whiz up the Wilkin River, and essentially allowing time in that same day to drive to the trail head. We had stayed the previous night in Tekapo, so made it to our 1:00 p.m. jet boat with ease.

Yes, we totally felt like softies stepping out onto that river bank after taking the jet boat with a crowd of seniors…but, hey, NZ domestic tourism needs our support after all. Only doing our part. Thanks Wilkin River Jets!

We continued to feel like softies strolling up this well-groomed and graded trail. There’s nothing like a west coast “trail” to make you appreciate a popular DOC track, and our last hike to Lake Morgan had been one of those. We fairly skipped along, admiring the gutters dug on the side of the path to deal with the frequent downpours, and singing “We love trails!” Carrie’s husband feels tracks are boring, compared to the raw wilderness experience of bush bashing and route finding, but…..we simply don’t agree.
Siberia Hut is very popular and requires bookings, but you can see why. Only two hours after our jet boat dropped us off we meandered into this alpine meadow with the hut deck and windows perfectly situated to take in the magnificent setting.
Not too shabby an outlook! Seems we hardly deserve it after only 2 hours of walking.
My tramping buddy has a greater affinity for cleanliness (and maybe less aversion to cold water) than I do, but I caved to peer pressure and washed in the river. The afternoon was warm and as we dried in the sun on the hut deck, we could see plumes of grass pollen being released and wafted over the meadow. Soon poor Carrie was sneezing and had to take refuge inside with an antihistamine.

By then it was only about 4:30, and it was still a warm basking sort of afternoon, too hot even for sandflies to be very pesky. I decided to sit in the long grass and see if I could discover which type was pollenating so copiously. It’s amazing what you see if you sit still. Besides discovering that it was the purple foamy grass that was shedding pollen and reacquainting myself with grass flower morphology, there was a lot of other business to admire. There was an assassin bug hugging its sandfly prey, various solitary and bumble bees hectically visiting the yellow asters, and lots of orange and black butterflies with green fuzzy thoraxes and spiral tongues chasing each other in loops. I tugged at the grass leaves and examined where they grip to the stem–the structure of that sheath and the hairs on the leaf base would tell me which species I was holding, if I could have remembered the grass key. The light purple harebells had white downy stigmas, and they didn’t seem to mind their resident thrips. Down near the river miniscule coprosma plants were heavy with orange berries, and their neighbour plants held their bare black seeds cupped in a white fleshy receptacle. Turn over a river rock and creepy crawlies scuttered away, gills quivering (maybe mayfly larvae?). The undersides of the rocks shelter perfect pebble pupa cases too, glued on strongly to make safe homes for…? Occasionally I heard a kea, but never caught glimpse of it. The cicadas were loud, and I brought an empty moult in to Carrie to show her the thread-like trachea linings, and tell her about the rest of the gorgeous miniscule world. “You’re frothing!” she commented. Yep, I was. I spent an hour and a half exploring the petite, and next time I’ll carry my 10x lens.

The next day we shouldered just a light daypack and walked down the valley and across the river to the steep trail leading up into the forest and out to Lake Crucible. There are many wonderful things about the woods, and the feature we’re enjoying here is the lack of sandflies for morning tea break.
We came out of the beech forest into an alpine meadow with blooming mountain lacebark. I don’t remember seeing these before, but unless they were blooming one might not take note of them. They’re showy in blossom! Lake Crucible is up behind the scree wall at the bottom of the cirque (bowl shaped cliffs at the head of the valley).
Carrie, always keen, dove in for a breath-snatching swim. Perfect timing–soon after she climbed out the wind came up and made it decidedly less inviting. Just afterwards a passel of 5 cheerful young kiwi girls arrived for their dip. “Tata’s out, girls?” The answer was yes, “tatas” were released but undies kept on, and they dove shrieking in. They had carried up a plunger coffee carafe and a burner, but had forgotten the coffee, disappointingly.
We found a bewitchingly still spot on the ridge and settled down for lunch and a bask in the sun. We must have lingered for more than an hour before walking back down to Siberia Hut for our second night there.
The hut was busy that night, and the table was like a meeting of the European Union. Italy, Spain, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, France….I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. They had been in NZ when Covid19 shut the border last year, and were still here. They asked if I had ever been to Europe. “No….well, only England…and that’s not really part of European Union anymore” I admitted. “Bah, England,” they grinned. They clearly didn’t mind that the UK has divorced herself from the rest of Europe.
Next morning we set off up the valley once again, this time peeling off on the Gillespie Pass track.
We again enjoyed a very well formed track, and soon gained a view of the valley below us. The grassy bit there by the stream would be very nice for tenting, and seemed to boast fewer sandflies than the river valley below.
The low point of the pass itself is a bit lower than the track, which sidles along the right, above the cliffy bits. At the top we stopped for lunch and saw an older fit couple labouring up the last bit of their climb from the other side. Their packs were big as they were at the beginning of a 10 day journey. “I wonder what they’ve got in their packs for food for 10 days,” I pondered, as I enjoyed my own heavy hard boiled eggs. “I’m going to be nosy and find out!” That started an enjoyable conversation, and I realized that another silver lining of the job hunt is my growing ease with starting inquisitive conversations with strangers.
Here we are looking back up at the head of the Young River. You’d wonder how in the world the track would reach up there! It goes up a steep tussock and rock spur that’s out of view around the corner to the left. The bridge seems overkill on a nice day, but Carrie recounted the tragic fate of one tramper who tried to beat the weather front over the pass and got swept off the trail by a swollen side stream crossing, eventually drowning in this river. Her clothes were later found inside out and her pack straps still clipped….the river had pulled them off. The force of a river in flood is sobering.
We spent the night at Young Hut, and left by torchlight the following morning as the walk down the valley to Makarora was 5-6 hours. Some people get tired of looking at trees, but I find it quite restful and I enjoyed this bit of the hike.
And again, the trail was impeccable. Look at this fantastic bridge!
I have a somewhat ridiculous affinity to dry boots, so even though the last river crossing (Makarora, unbridged) was only a few kilometers before the hike end, I opted to wear my hut shoes and carry the boots. They may seem prissy, but they’re a great little pair of Crocs, and hefting the leather boots over my shoulder made me realize how heavy they are, even dry! Long distance hikers often go for light weight running shoes….I might have to try that next time, provided the weather is warm.
We had about 2.5 kilometers along the road to get back to Makarora village, but just when we were really getting tired of it, a kind farmer gave us a lift on his hay cart.
The cafe at Makarora does a nice coffee on their scenic veranda, just the pick-me-up we needed before driving back to Christchurch.

Delight of the Day

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Peach pie! with BUTTER crust. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I stopped into a local produce stand, and there was a box of soft stone fruit seconds (awaft with fruit flies) for five bucks. I snagged it. The pie has peaches, but also apricots, nectarines, three varieties of plums.

New Zealand grocery stores don’t stock Crisco, and I’ve been disheartened with oil crusts as well as my last attempt (4 years ago!) at a butter crust. This time I followed a recipe, including the recommendation to use ice water and refrigerate the crust before rolling it out. Voila! It tasted as good as it looked.

And yes, we’ve been eating it for breakfast.

Opportunity Costs

“What do you do for work?”

“Oh, well, I quit my job just before Christmas….”

“Good on you!” 

I’ve had half a dozen iterations of this surprising conversation with Kiwis, and it has really puzzled me.  It was the same whether they were a friend who knew me well or a complete stranger I’d just met.  In fact, looking back, I’ve yet to encounter a single negative reaction. 

Why would anyone be offering their congratulations for doing what I cringe to admit I’ve done—voluntarily quitting gainful employment without securing another job first.  Why does what seems like reckless irresponsibility to me sound so praiseworthy to them? 

I finally started asking, and got responses like this: 

“You didn’t like the situation you were in, so you’re making a change.”


“Rather than just putting up with a job that had become a grind, you’re working toward something better.” 

It reminds me of the Freakonomics podcast from 2011, “The Upside of Quitting,” which turned on its head that old mantra that preaches “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.”

Here’s the podcast synopsis:  “To help us understand quitting, we look at a couple of key economic concepts in this episode: sunk cost and opportunity cost. Sunk cost is about the past – it’s the time or money or sweat equity you’ve put into a job or relationship or a project, and which makes quitting hard. Opportunity cost is about the future. It means that for every hour or dollar you spend on one thing, you’re giving up the opportunity to spend that hour or dollar on something else – something that might make your life better. If only you weren’t so worried about the sunk cost. If only you could …. quit.”

To my mind, I have a “sunk cost” of nearly 8 years of prime career-building years in ornamentals, when I came to the sad realization that here in NZ, within the company I worked for, there was no growth potential in that field.  I can’t go back and remake the decision to spend 8 years there; that time is gone…..sunk in the ocean of time.

And each evening when I would wearily pull out the computer at 8:00 p.m. to try and search for other job options, I felt the “opportunity cost” of staying with my old job.  I simply had very little time and energy to work on making a change. 

So, while I don’t yet have new employment, let me celebrate the time reclaimed during January and February.

This was the first January where I wasn’t juggling childcare and work, and it was amazing.  The kids and I had three golden weeks after we got back from our north island holiday when we slept in, cooked waffles for breakfast, went to the skate park/pool/beach, saw friends….and generally enjoyed one another’s casual company. 

Now the kids have been back at school for almost three weeks, and I have been doing a deep dive into career networking, while also enjoying the best of summer.

I can’t for the life of me get a genuine smile when I ask for a nice photo, but when I request silliness…..
We took a family trip to kayak and camp at Murchison (that’s Naomi rocking the rope swing)
I spent five days tramping at Gillespies Pass with my friend Carrie
I’ve enjoyed several Friday bike rides through the adventure park with the ladies…apparently Friday is a popular day for moms to take off from work, there were about a dozen of us congregated at the top of Kennedy’s Bush last Friday.
And most recently we had an overnight camping trip at Godley Heads in Christchurch

Plus (and this bit isn’t as photogenic) I’ve been spending several hours each day on the job search front.

These experiences, in a nutshell, are the opportunity cost of working at my last job. 

Now, I know that doesn’t count the whole cost. Some of those things I might have squeezed in while working, like the Murchison kayak trip. I’m also currently not earning any income, which isn’t sustainable….and now that the kids are back at school, I’m not even saving the cost of holiday programs. Jeremiah is being wonderfully patient with this leisurely phase of life (thanks, hun).

Still, I’ve noticed another big advantage of reclaiming the energy I used to spend at work. I’ve got a lot more patience to deal with the kids. I don’t actually have that many more hours to spend with them now that they’re in school, but when we do have time together, I’ve felt more playful, which averts a lot of conflict. And I’ve felt more creative and compassionate at resolving conflict when it does happen. I’ve discovered that there’s an opportunity cost (in the form of mental energy) to employment that I never appreciated.

So while I hope to soon be working in a challenging new field, I will still take a moment to appreciate the silver lining of this career pause.

On Aging…

I’ve finally left age 38 behind, good riddance.  2020 was hardly in the running to be anyone’s favorite year.  Now I’m 39.  A much more pleasing number, but we all know what looms next. 

As I’ve been pondering aging, there have been a few incidences that pull my self-image one way or the other….aside from the obvious mirror, which shows my first grey hair and the deepening furrows between my brows (stop frowning, Molly!). 

Old #1: Milo turned 10 last week. 

In his typical ultra-confidence stance, he’s calling himself a “pre-adult.”  Whatever.  We all know he’s only half way to adulthood, at the most.  But still, he’s a decade old, and no one would term me a “young mother” anymore.

Young #1:  We went to Jellie Park, a Christchurch Council swimming pool, one recent hot day before school started.  So did half the moms and kids in Christchurch. 

I’ve never seen a public swimming place in NZ this busy before.

We all wore our swim suits to the pool to avoid the changing rooms, me in my new pink-lined speedo which recently replaced my old sagging togs.  I staked out a section of grass by spreading out our towels, and went to swim a couple laps while the kids did the hydroslides.  Milo gets cold easily, and I found him back on the towels warming in the sun.  He glanced up at me in surprise as I plunked myself down next to him. “Oh, I thought you were some teenager,” he exclaimed.  Having spent the morning in close observation of body types of all ages, I’ll take that as a compliment. 

Old#2: I recently hiked to Lake Morgan on the west coast, and my quads were sore for a week afterwards.  Either I’m less fit than I used to be, or my body’s recovery time is increasing with old age….or both. 

I went with two friends, Carrie and Julia, who are both experienced trampers.
Mt O’Shanessy is marked on the map at 1462; not that high, objectively, even when considering that we were starting from only 200m above sea level. Carrie looked at trip reports from Remote Huts and DOC, and we estimated that the route would take us 6ish hours on the first day (pink line) and maybe a bit longer on the second day (yellow line).
We forgot that our experience is mostly with relatively “well-formed” tracks, not a luxury that the west coast enjoys much of. In typical rugged west coast style, the rough track went straight up the hill, and we were careful to always be on the lookout for the elusive markers.
Once above the tree line the markers disappeared, but visibility was excellent across the grassy alpine zone. The tops travel wasn’t as effortless as it sometimes is, and we were relieved to catch a glimpse of the hut on our way up Mt O’Shanessy.
We quickly scuttled the plan of getting all the way to Cone Creek the first day, and enjoyed the warm late evening light at Lake Morgan hut while we ate dinner.
Next day we set out at 7:00, made our way up and over into the next catchment (this view is looking backwards to Mt O’Shanessy).
I took a few opportunities to rest my legs while trying to get an up close picture of the sundews. I don’t seem them catching many insects.
This view is looking back up towards the ridge we just crossed. The cairn is marking the start of a cut trail through the bush; Lake Morgan is on the other side of the ridge under the cloud.
Then down, down, DOWN a long steep unstable scree shoot to Cone Creek Hut. I had been looking forward to a friendly loose slide, but instead we got a quad-burning skittery descent through angular schist. 

Fun fact: “greywackle” is the grey sedimentary sandstone I’m familiar with from much of the southern alps.  When it is deeply buried and heated, greywacke is converted to a flaky rock called schist. The western side of the alps has been uplifted more than the east, so the deeper layers that contain schist are revealed there.

We spent the rest of the afternoon trudging out through spectacular forest whose floor was made up of large boulders (up, down, up, down!), along with some kilometers of river travel, finishing around 5:30.

“My legs aren’t too bad,” I stated, optimistically massaging my quads.  “It’s the down that gets me.”  Even as I said it, I remember my grandparents saying the same thing, a fact that as I child I found frankly implausible. 

Young#2:  One day recently I was rounding the corner to meet the kids on their way home from school. 

I reached out to give Naomi a hug and she punched her head into my stomach with some force.

“Hey, careful with your old mazzer!” I protested.  “You’re not old!” Naomi rejoined, exercising her appreciation for precision and love of contradiction at the same time.  

“Thanks, hun.”

Old#3:  Milo was reading his library book when he picked his head up and fired out what seemed like a random question:

“What’s a phonebook?” I paused, speechless for a moment, visions of the ubiquitous sagging yellow and white volumes that used to live in every home next to the….landline….which, come to think of it, have gone extinct in most homes nowadays.

“Back when I was a kid—in the days before the internet, and before we all had cell phones—we used to have a book that you could use to look up people’s phone numbers by their last name.”  Describing it that way, the phone book days seemed very very long ago.

“Could you tear on in half?” he asked, and suddenly I understood the context of the question in relation to the comic book.  “No, not me, they were massive.” 

Young #3:  Actually, I can’t think of one.  I suppose that puts me squarely in the middle of old and young.  Embrace middle-age, baby!

Incest Explained

“Don’t touch her butt!” Jeremiah rebuked Milo.  Milo and Naomi were romping in the living room in that silly hour that happens when bedtime has been delayed, and there were some shenanigans going on.

“Why not?” he asked, challenging as always.

“You shouldn’t touch anyone else’s butt,” Jeremiah insisted, vehemently but vaguely.

“But Daddy touches your butt,” Milo argued to me, demonstrating the sensual caresses remarkably accurately on his own body. 

“Yes, but Daddy’s my husband,” I said, “and the way he touches my butt has a sexual connotation, so you shouldn’t do it to Naomi, because you’re not supposed to have sex with your sister.” 

Milo was grinning in delight now.  He’d gotten mommy at a matter-of-fact moment and was getting some juicy morsels of gossip on a rarely-mentioned topic.  “Why can’t I have sex with Naomi?”  He cocked his head and the buck-tooth grin challenged me to drop some more pearls of wisdom.  The year 4 students started sex ed last year and he has an anatomical idea of what sex is (“You had to do that TWICE to get me and Naomi, didn’t you?” he has asked me recently. “Yes, Milo, twice…..”).

In lieu of a cheeky grin photo (which I haven’t got), here’s a proud grin photo. Milo’s posing here with his first family dinner creation….and the newly arrived national geographic, though I don’t remember why that featured in the same photo. He’s nearly 10, and along with tough conversation topics, I figured it’s about time to get him on the dinner-making roster.

“If you have sex with your sister it’s called incest, and it’s considered taboo by society, and your children could have weird genetic problems.” 

“What’s Taboo?”  he asked, dancing around like a joker, considering, I’m sure, how scintillating a conversation topic this would make with his next door buddy.  Naomi was also listening in delight, rubbing her bum and waving it around.

He looks rather like a clown in this photo, though the seriousness of consuming his own banana bread has taken over the photo moment.

“It means you’d be an outcast of society and no one would talk to you or play with you!  Now, GO TO BED!” I insisted, pointing to the bedroom. 

They retreated, and I moved back into the kitchen where Jeremiah was making pasta salad.  “I just explained incest to our kids, did you hear?”  I said, fishing for a congratulations on doing some hard-yards parenting. 

“Yeah, thanks, good job,” he grinned. Milo turns 10 next week. Explaining Incest is easy compared to the years we surely have ahead.

Ode to Seven Years

I’ve sometimes wondered what it’s like to be completely happy being yourself. That would be life as Naomi lives it.
Naomi recently turned 7. She loves being a seven year old girl.
For her birthday party she went with some friends to Clip and Climb, a kids’ climbing wall.
She is quite a social creature overall. Here we have 5 mermaids in a row!
This Friday is Book Character day at school, which happily coincides with Halloween the day following, so the flamingo costume (from “Pea and Nut”) gets two uses.
Cheers, my darling. Here’s to being seven!

Yellow is the colour of happiness

I know I’m not “supposed” to like broom, or gorse. It’s an invasive plant, and in NZ, non-natives are considered evil. (this may apply to non-native people too….not going there today)  But I don’t care.  I like it, as long as there’s a good path like this one cut through it.  It’s gorgeous, and smells nice, and wouldn’t be a weedy problem anyway if the native forest was allowed to grow back.  

I biked up Kennedy’s bush this afternoon, then over the Summit Rd and down through the Christchurch Adventure Park.  It was a fantastic ride, not only because of the gorse, but because I had one earbud in listening to Dire Straits on Spotify.  I encountered the old favorites, but also a bunch of songs I had never heard before.  Listening to music has such a profound affect on mood.  With Dire Straits I was a more aggressive rider on the downhill trails, and I’ve never enjoyed them as much as I did today.  What a fabulous ride!

Delightful mini spheres

This pansy was covered in perfect spherical melted frost drops, glisteningin the morning sun. I passed it planter yesterday on my way into work, and actually doubled back to take a photograph. I wonder what microscopic characteristics of the petal surface make it so hydrophobic.

Belated Delight of the Day

Last weekend I went hiking with some friends to Youngman Stream hut, in the Lees Valley.  We came off the tussock-covered tops and down to the beginning of the beech forest, and inhaled the peculiar scent of those woods.

Here’s Carrie entering the high bit of the beech forest, where the old man’s beard lichen hangs thick.

The beech forest has a heady fermenting smell, not disgusting but not particularly pleasant, in an objective way.  But that first big whiff was my Delight of the Day, because it means we’re in the NZ east coast bush.

The smell is the mold growing on the honeydew of the particular species of scale insect that coats the trunks of these beech trees.  The black mold grows in thick cushiony mounds along the tree trunks and even the ground.  Even if I go blind, I’ll love this smell because it means I’m in the New Zealand woods.