Monday, 16 July 2007

Winter Grist

around Tuesday

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.


around Wednesday

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.

around Thursday

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.

around Friday

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.


Joyce Ellen Davis said...

I am so sorry about your friend Vicci. The world is full of evil people doing evil things. {{Hugs}}

Jan said...

Your lovely writing, enjoyed as ever.
And yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean re friends giving one courage.
They do in countless ways:their smiling faces...and their words which also smile and often leave you smiling....
Sorry not to have either blogged or visited for a while but shall make amends!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry about Vicki. The rest of your post is beautiful, but all I can say is I'm sorry.

Tammy Brierly said...

I'm very sorry violence has violated a friend.

I left on vacation before I got to all the SS but I'm glad I caught yours now. Why do we need to be so squeaky clean?

I loved your shots of the week! HUGS

dinzie said...

Sorry about your friend ...It must have been aweful to find out that way too ....

Thanks for the notes ...The photography isn't getting much practice in these days ...The holiday isn't far away though now so Hoping I'll get a few good shots in ... Did McD tell you we are passing through Darwin !!! The more I read of the place the more I want to stay longer ..... maybe in a year or so ...

Avus said...

I really enjoyed (if that is the right word - but I hope you know what I mean) reading about your week - its satisfactions and disappointments.

carole said...

Your discovery about Vicki must have been devastating.

It's strange to read about fires. It's years since I saw one.

I enjoy your way of looking at life.

wendy said...

Why some people think life is theirs to take, confounds me. There will always be a certain amount of brutality in the world. But intentional killing of human or animal is chilling.

I am so sorry for this loss.

On the totally opposite hand..the childs comments about the digger...was delightful.

I would love a file of your son's brilliant cover..

here's my email.....

you pictures of the beach leave me longing..

S. Kearney said...

Hi there, :)
Congratulations again on your win in the lion circle contest! Now it's time to get a book voucher to you. Could you please send me an email to let me know which Amazon site you would like to redeem the voucher at ie:,,, etc. I need your up-to-date email address plus the Amazon site of your choice. The voucher can only be redeemed at the site you choose and this can't be changed afterwards. Send your email to:
You may have already sent these details but please send them again because my normal email account (at caramail) is out of action/unable to be accessed because of an upgrade. Thanks, and congratulations once again, Seamus.

Kay Cooke said...

pepek - It gives one a jolt that's for sure.

jan - Thanks.Looking forward to your return to the fold ;)

dana - Thanks; appreciated.

tammy - Thanks. I'm sure nobody'd notice if we didn't squeak!

dinzie - I hope you have a tremendous time on your holiday.

avus - I know what you mean - thanks.

carole - Thanks. It was not a nice thing - I keep thinking about it and wish it wasn't true.

wendy - Thanks. Will get on to sending you the file.

shameless - Ooh goody!!!! Will get on to that straight away. Thanks so much.

Nienke Hinton said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Vicki. I must say tho, your writing captivated me... Perhaps fodder for a book or story?

herhimnbryn said...

What a week, with such sadness in it's midst. Life can throw some nasty things at us sometimes. (0)

apprentice said...

What a shock to recognise the poor girl. I can't imagine how that must have felt.

I'm glad your reading went well and that having friends there helped. I know what you mean about opening up in front of strangers.

Katherine Dolan said...


A post that demonstrates your ability to meet the world's shocks,irks,quirks and quiet moments and to reply to them with sensitivity and eloquence.

Kay Cooke said...

nienke - Thanks. I am plotting something along those lines ... sorry about the bad pun!

hh&b - Thanks. Yes it can be grim at times ...

apprentice - I can see you totally understand - it means a lot - thanks.

katherine - Your kind compliments go a long way to making me feel better about everything! :)

Catherine said...

I hope the poetry reading went well - I'm looking forward to receiving my copy

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

I bought your new "Weather" book the other day! Hurrah! They said it won't be available until late September...I guess I can wait that long....

Becky Willis Motew said...

I do so wish I could attend a reading of yours, CB.

I would smile my head off. I love smilers if I'm speaking (from my teacher's viewpoint).


Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I absolutely love your photography, and your writing.

I'm so sorry about Vicki. That's horrid. It does stop one short, like a sudden slap in the mind... and the whole world comes to a grinding halt for a few moments while we try to comprehend the reality of it. I wish I did not know the depths of this pain.
Some dear old friends lost their 12 year old son two months ago, in a tragic, freak accident.
My sympathies to you.

The beach photos were my favorite, so gorgeous, even with the clouds, it just shows it's beauty another way.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Kay Cooke said...

catherine - Thanks for thoinkonmg of me. It did go well. I was so pleased it all went so splendidly. I signed your copy of the book - and did so with great pleasure! You should receive it very soon.

pepek - That seems a long time to wait ... sorry about that.

becky - Your smiles must've reached me here anyway! I had a lovely time - the audience was warm and smiley - which as you say, makes the person at the front feel a lot better.

scarlett - Thanks for your kind words. Life can be so tragic ...
I must be due for another visit to the beach - it's been a week already now!

rel said...

Life is for the moment, as you well know! As sad as that may be it is uplifting when we can finally embrace that concept and know we are not garaunteed anything more than this moment.
And you, Cb, take the most from every moment...and that is as it should be.
I always feel like writing something, anything, after I read your posts. ;-)

Kay Cooke said...

rel - You are such an encourager - thanks so much. :)

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