Follow the Birdie

The signs in life can be subtle, like an intuitive nudge to go down one road versus the other; fairly apparent, like a flyer for a new gallery opening down the street; or incredibly obvious, like a placard that says “you must be this tall to ride this ride.” When it comes to animal sanctuaries, it seems they take a whole new approach to hopeful signs.

But first, let me set the stage. I visited the remarkable animal sanctuary of Zealandia (photos below) to take in native birds and “the bush” in its rainforest glory.

Zealandia entrance Zealandia reservoir Looking up the valley Treetops in Zealandia Unique growth patterns A path through the bush Nature twirling in spirals Wild mushrooms flourishing Skyward through the trees A lit path to crest the hill Surveying the bush

As you can see, the hike was well worth the effort. The 360-degree view of the valley from atop the looking tower was fabulous and so inspiring. I saw and heard birds of all colors and sizes, watched small children marvel at the bird feeders (ok, I did too), and gained reverence for the natural beauty of quiet spaces.

After walking several kilometers, I refueled in the cafe upstairs and went to stand by the shuttle stop. A kind gentleman walked by (I assume a staff member for the facility, based on the items he was carrying) and told me to look down for the signs. “What?” I thought with amusement. As I stared at the ground, I saw this little fellow:

Kiwi painted on the sidewalk

A kiwi painted on the sidewalk? I chuckled. Turns out my hope for finding my way to the botanic gardens, in lieu of waiting an hour for the next shuttle, meant following these little birdies. What fun! I made it a hopeful, fun-filled game. Wanna play?

Which way little bird, up? Um, is this a birdie? Where did you lead me? Into the tunnel we go Frog or bird . . . hmm? Lining the road Ah ha! A bird's eye view Are we taking a bus? Uh oh, nature is creeping in Must need to cross the street No hiding from me, please Hungry birdie? Me too Wow, more than crumbs here Pausing to admire street art Yippee! Made it to the garden

As one of my dear friend’s would say, “Huzzah!” Thanks to a playful spirit, a sense of adventure and a few helpful little painted birdies, I made it to the garden. And the landscaping was fantastic:

View from the top of Wellington A botanical pathway A well-groomed plant bed

I met some wonderful locals, tourists and even a sweet dog on the way. Hope offers up signs of the wonders ahead. Watch for yours, in whatever form they may take. Oh, time to catch the train!

Painted sign for train

Painted sign for train

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