Monday, 25 October 2010
And All That Jazz
Labour Weekend is a long weekend in New Zealand, with Monday being a Public Holiday.
Rather than stay and do the traditional 'garden & home' tasks (beautifully described here at my friend Sue's blog) this year Robert and I opted to take off for the weekend and catch up with his parents in Queenstown.
The fact that the annual Jazz Festival runs over Labour Weekend was an added bonus. We caught some wonderful jazz on the Saturday and Sunday, enjoying it in Queenstown's mountain and lake backdrop setting.
We listened to a mellow, Melbourne jazz trio while sitting at an outside table in the sun, gazing at a lake prancing in the sun below Cecil Peak. Well, I did the gazing, my mother in law prefered to concentrate on people. We beg to differ on that one - she says 'people' I say 'mountains'.
At the Green - designed by some far-sighted Queenstown councillors who decided that the creek formerly covered over should be unleashed to run through a green space, terraced by stone steps and forming the perfect entertainment venue - we were entertained by some young, high school jazz performers. We were blown away by their talent. A band called Hoodoo Voodoo were especially impressive - and our favourite.
"I remember when this was all just tussock and broken glass," my mother-in-law said as we drove past St Omer's Park - a green, manicured area that now runs alongside lake frontage under established willows. She was remembering back some fifty-five years. Over a time that spans some seventy years now, she has seen a lot of changes to her beloved Queenstown.
Today before we made the return trip back to Dunedin, Robert and I had a stroll through the shopping area and a coffee at a place that overlooks where he used to live as a small boy. He pointed out where his house was and described how in the weekends he would wake up, fold back the windows and clamber up on to the window-sill to sit there and look out at 'nothing going past'.
"Then I would go and climb the apple tree," he said, pointing out where it grew, an area now choked with Real Estate offices and shops selling camping gear. I tried to picture the little rough-cast home with its apple tree, trying to see through time - to blot out the ungainly clutch of modern buildings that have scribbled it out.
After that we went for a walk in the Queenstown Gardens Among the photos I took was one of the bowling green. It reminded us of the poem I wrote in 'Feeding the Dogs' about this very bowling green.
lawn bowlers, Queenstown
They rustle like medics
in white shoes
up a green
They peer out
from under brims
as if this is all
they've ever known;
the regular clock
as two bowls collide,
the sentences neatly clipped,
this oven-warm sun
and backdrop range
of mountains. They stuff
with tape measures,
dusters and chalk
and leave their hands
free to cradle
bowls the weight and shape
of babies' heads.
We arrived back to a lovely surprise. Our daughter-in-law had procured some tomato plants for us and planted them in our glasshouse (as well as mending the broken panes so that it was nice and snug for the plants). What a sweetie. Surely we will sleep soundly tonight, knowing that the traditions of a kiwi Labour Weekend, a combination of shopping, spring-planting and leisure, have been well and truly fulfilled, either by us directly, or kindly, on our behalf.
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