Tuesday, 16 November 2010
On the Main Road to Roxburgh
There was a house I remember as a child that looked just like this one. It had that same kind of helpful front porch / verandah with a practical and friendly clothes-line stretched across it. I seem to remember (or favour) the little, wooden bungalow had a green roof and yellow walls.
That house was situated somewhere between Orepuki and Tuatapere on what is now known as the Southern Scenic Route. As kids we would look out for it on our way to or from 'Tap' (Tuatapere's nickname) having made bets beforehand on whether or not there would be washing out on the porch - and whether that washing would be nappies. It was always a fair bet that, as suspected, there would indeed be a line of square, white nappies flapping in the wind. It became something we could depend on. Like Binky McQueen's pink mailbox. Always there. A signpost. Like the duckshooter maimai's along the Waikaia River we would look out for after we shifted from Orepuki to our new location, Otama Valley.
How romantic it sounded, 'Otama Valley', how imaginative and interesting, I thought, to live in a 'Valley'. It was stuff straight out of 'Anne of Green Gables'. In this new place the familiar road became the one between Otama Valley, over the hill to Wendon and then along the river to Riversdale, and whenever we passed the maimais sitting in among the willows like the second little pig's house of sticks, it became an 'in' joke to chant, "My maimai," and wait for the echoed challenge from one or other of six siblings, "No, it's my maimai."
Then there was the bulldozed track up Pyramid Hill which we called the 'main road to Roxburgh' because Dad (the wag) replied that was what it was. One day after one of us asked him why the track was there, he stated, "It's the main road to Roxburgh". From then on when we drove past Pyramid Hill and looked up at the bulldozed track in all its clay-ey glory, one of us nabbed the honour of being the first one to call out, "There's the main road to Roxburgh!" (The fact that it was heading north and Roxburgh was fifty miles behind us to the west, didn't escape us).
The house in the photo above is in fact located on the real main road to Roxburgh. It is the home of a family I am fond of. Look out for it if you are ever on that road, and give them a wave and a toot. You can even lay bets on whether there will be washing on the line.(But you can take it from me, it's a pretty safe bet in these days of disposables, that there won't be cloth nappies waving in the wind).