Monday, 16 July 2007
This morning on my way to work, I stride into the coldness. As I make my way through the Gardens, I see a blackbird - extra large with its feathers all fluffed up.
Once at work it's a case of getting through the day without making any terrible blunders. I don't feel I have the energy needed to be extra 'specially bright and bubbly to parents and children. However I smile in as saintly a way as I can manage and try to enjoy the moments as they arise. Like the twin sisters who've just had a baby brother added to the family, who when asked, "What has arrived at your house?" reply, "A digger." Of course watching a digger at work is far more exciting than a baby brother!
At lunch-time I make an escape to go for a brisk walk to grab some lunch. In the cafe at the table next to me, a Canadian is telling a kiwi farmer all about an early morning experience he had while out deer hunting. He describes coming upon a stag and lining it up in the sights of his rifle. "I checked the skyline to make sure I had a safe shot," he says. It seems a world away from working with a crowd of small children and this busy, city corner, traffic tumbling past, to the Umbrella Mountains, Piano Flat in the distance, a bush-covered ridge above still bearing traces of morning mist.
Sitting outside under a tree having a snack with the few 'late' children; those still to be picked up. It is four o'clock in the afternoon. A flat time of the day. The children munch on crackers and apple. Two tuis scuttle in the branches above us, interested in the possibility of some food. They come close, their glockenspiel clicks and whirrs an entertaining distraction.
We feed the rabbits some pellets. In the shed where the rabbit-food bins are kept, I spot a brown mouse inside an old glass aquarium. It lies, stomach down, its back legs spread like a frog's. It has fallen in and been unable to get out again, its demise brought about by a lethal combination of starvation, thirst, cold and no rope or ladder. I ask A if she will gather it up, as I'm a real wuss and can't bring myself to touch it.
Lunchtime. I sip my soup-in-a-cup. Asian Laksa. I read the newspaper. A photo of the young woman brutally slain over the weekend brings me up short. It's Vicki. She was a student in one of my child-care classes back in 1999 when I was tutoring. Sweet Vicki. The one who came up to me, two years later, brimming with positive energy and thanking me for what she'd learned in the class. Telling me life was good, she was doing things with her life and the future looked bright. Vicki, Vicki, Vicki. What gave that brutal man the right take your life? To slash you with a knife and leave you to bleed to death? I feel bruised inside for the rest of the day. A beautiful life extinguished. Just like that.
I am reading poetry in a church where we drink mulled apple juice - warm, spicy and tasty. Friends are in the audience and their warm faces give me courage. It is not easy to open yourself to others, take the words you've written, give them air and energy. I feel I fail to do the poetry justice. However, my friends are gracious in their encouragement afterwards. The other readers have made it all worthwhile. The poetry is robust, meaningful, crafted and strong.
The other readers were Susan Jones (the minister of the Opoho Presbyterian Church where the readings were held) Elizabeth Brooke-Carr, Sue Wootton, and the two open-mike readers, Ann Jacobsen and Herberta Hellendoorn.
... which brings us to Saturday
A walk past the playing grounds where a game of rugby league is underway. The smell of a muddy playing field bringing back memories of playing hockey and the thrill of running in a freezing wind, my body generating the heat and energy needed to ride the cold.
And to the beach, winter-cold, clouds forming a grey rampart against any advance of sun.
Against a dark backdrop, two seagulls on power poles survey a grim outlook.
It was time to head back home to the fire. Enough of experiencing the elements for one day.