The first Canterbury Agricultural and Pastural (A & P) Show, promoted as When the Country Comes to Town, happened in 1862 and, world wars aside, has happened every year since. By far the most popular day of the Show has always been the Friday, originally called People’s Day.
Initially, Canterbury Anniversary Day, a statutory holiday, was celebrated on the day in 1850 when the Charlotte Jane and Randolf (two of the four ships carrying our cities official settlers) sailed into Lyttelton Harbour, 16 December. But somewhere between 1955 and 1958 the Christchurch City Council had a bit of a ponder. Having a holiday in December, barely a week before Christmas after which our whole country takes a bit of a breather, was really a tad of a pain. Why not shift the anniversary day to people’s day, call it Show Day and give everyone a day off. Hooray!
So, today is Show Day. Currently one of our number is down at the Show grounds hopefully making a bit on the horses and not getting too sunburnt, one of us is at work, one of us is playing with the trains and us three girls are doing what most people not keen on crowds or parting with large wads of cash do on Show Day: tending the garden. Because Show Day also signals the end of frosts. No frosts are allowed after the first Friday after the second Tuesday in November (how Show Day is determined so as to not clash with the Melbourne Cup which is on the first Tuesday, but don’t tell the Australians we kowtow to their event like that); It’s the law.
With this in mind, the big happening in the Homestead garden today was cue fanfare: The Grand Unveiling.
This crafty contraption has been the cause of a great deal of interest over the last year. Most first time visitors to the Homestead tend to question it’s relevance, usually in a sentence beginning, “What the….?” In fact, what it is is the most cunning of plant coddling devices; three windows saved from the Homestead double glazing makeover (perfect for wind protection) with added frost protection of a broken umbrella salvaged from the bus stop. Today the binder twine was reverently unknotted (the easterly demanded quite a few of these, often hurriedly retied in howling gales with the umbrella flapping wildly), the cover was removed with a flourish and the delicate princess that is our lemon tree was exposed to the New Brighton elements.
Look at her! All those lovely little blossoms promising (please deity that overlooks these things) at least one, little golden globe of citrus spark and bite. That’s all we ask…well, that’s the absolute minimum we ask…after nursing this, our third attempt to reproduce something that grew like a glossy Goliath outside out kitchen window at the previous Rotorua-based Homestead, through rain, hail, storm, frost, gale and a huge amount of shelter-ridicule.