The old year went out and the new year came in very quietly in our household. ABM and I stayed indoors and watched two dvds - 'Brick' and 'The Inside Job' (at least I think that was what the second dvd was called - a Spike Lee film anyway, so his direction probably made it better than it should've been.) Both were okay - we didn't feel cheated after watching them, just pleasantly entertained, and no brain cells were damaged or mutilated in the process. I thought Denzel Washington looked old and fat. But I like him better like that. More jaded and bitter. More believable.
Meanwhile outside the sky greyed to black. There were fireworks at midnight. We were going to walk down our drive, along the street and around the corner, for a better view. However the last dvd we watched didn't finish 'til right on midnight, so in the end we simply stepped out on to our landing and in the cool night air, watched as each unseen firework-shower simply caused the sky to pulsate slightly, the underside of rain-filled clouds lighting up as pale-yellow as week-old cream.
On New Year's Day itself, the TV news showed a round-up of the nation's New Year's Eve celebrations, including a shot of our Mayor Chin in full regalia, gustily singing Christmas carols to a gathered throng of grinning, round-cheeked Dunedin citizens. It was as cheesy as Dunedin gets. And believe me, that can sometimes be pretty cheesy.
The next day even though the weather was drizzly and unpromising, I decided we would go on a picnic and cheerfully prepared the necessary. The males in my household grumped and chided me for thinking we could have a picnic in the rain. But I was obstinate and decided. I was going anyway - it was up to them. They could come if they wanted. They came. As I knew they would.
We piled into the car - all five of us - and followed a tiny glimmer of light, until lo and behold, we found a glimmer of blue sky above Aromoana. Here we found a sheltered spot on the beach in which to set up our chairs and food. Smooth, small waves quietly lapped and licked the shore. We sat in the lee of the sandhills and ate our picnic meal in perfect calm.
When a couple of squawking, strident seagulls approached, adamant that we throw them a crust (we didn't - it only encourages them) S said he hadn't missed there not being any seagulls in Japan. Then he said that they have crows over there and conceded that they're probably worse than seagulls. He told of one time camping out overnight and waking up to discover that in the night crows had picked over the food they'd forgotten to pack away. He said the methodical way they'd picked over the food, choosing and discarding, gave him the creeps. Which inevitably led us on to a conversation about Hitchcock's movie 'The Birds'. Am I the only one who doesn't find that movie scary? S suggested it's more suspense Hitchcock is so good at building up in his movies, rather than raw fear.
Aromoana is a pretty place, but full of a weird oppression. As if everything is covered by an invisible, clear film. As we drove through, all appeared normal - family groups were out walking, laughing and chatting. Nevertheless, the thought that ten years ago in this small seaside town, people - including children - were murdered by a man with a gun, seemed to bubble silently under the surface. It was as if we glided underwater, the merest breath of memory enough to disturb the surface. None of us mentioned it at all, so I have no idea if anyone else thought about it. Yet somehow, at the same time, I know we all did.
On the way home we bought ice creams. S wanted a gum-drop ice cream - it was one of his many cravings after having eaten only Japanese food for a whole year. Pies is another. Sausages and Raro drink sachets are also among the things he's missed. And Colgate toothpaste - Japanese toothpaste sucks, he says.