Small Wet Town

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and wait there is more


Fingers crossed for a full recovery from the latest lung infection for Favourite Handyman. Many prayers offered up for him as I housewif around and around and also for some improvement in my mothering skills. Specifically my patience.

But the good news is that the children are in bed right now and I am back where I belong of an evening - doing my own reading/writing/crafty stuff. The dishwasher can wait. It does every other night.

Two good DVDs this week. Buying that tv was a great idea. This is England with it's sobering portrayal of the lure of the National Front to the dispossessed, the lonely, the lost. Then Ken Loach's The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006). That was brilliant. Unutterably sad at the same time. Set in Ireland in 1920, as war against the Black and Tans gives way to civil war.

The book I have just finished: At the Edge of Memory: A Family Story by Michael King. Just as I have seen enough of Ken Loach's movie to know that I want to see each and every one he has made, so I feel about Michael King's books. I remember Being Pakeha, the one on Whina Cooper, writing on Catholicism and most recently his Penguin History of New Zealand. I've watched the documentary on his life - it filled in some gaps when we got back to New Zealand after five years away.

I bought a shirt and a pair of trousers at the Sallies last week. I took some kiwifruit in for their food bank and somehow ended up perusing their clothes racks. The trousers are for summer but the scarlet red fine corduroy shirt is for right now. I didn't fancy the existing buttons so spent $6 on a pack of red buttons at the Bernina shop only to get home and find the perfect buttons in my button jar after all. So the red corduroy short has brass fish down the front now.

I'm still knitting. Every work day I bemoan that I don't have the clothing that I need in order to use my t-shirts without revealing all bulges in shocking detail. Every week I remind myself that when I have finished my vest I will have the t-shirt cover and warmth that I covet.

So much seems both poignant and wordless at the moment. I drove home last night in the half light and wished for a camera. That grey shroud of a winter dusk which is so characteristic to me of small town New Zealand. Rain threatens, promises like a cloak around the skyline. But holds off while a break in the sky reveals the last beautiful colours of day - pink by now not blue. The way that vistas beyond low buildings stretch into empty space. So different to the crammed views of citylife, esepcially the cityscapes I became attached to in the UK.

I remember these views as a child, a teenager. We would go on holidays to other small towns and arrive just before dusk. Low buildings, a wetness or a chill in the air depending where we had gone and then not much else. This is where I come from. A land with spread out buildings built close to the ground. With a corner shop even miles away and each house framed by lawn and shrubs. And somehow, in this town where it rains more than most other places in the country, where the squat buildings, flat land and lack of architectural shape is part of what I once ran from, to university, to Auckland, to London, has seeped into my heart.

Maybe it is the mountains. The Paparoa ranges do not squat close to the ground and leave nothign to see beyond them. They rise, provide a backdrop for the barber, a ferociously cold wind which whistles down the Grey Valley and threatened to slice off the ears of my father as a boy. He came with his father once and the memory of the cold stays with him, nearly sixty years later. He also remembers going up to see his uncle working, either milling or felling wood/trees. He remembers seeing too many of the workers with missing limbs and deciding he would keep clear of working with wood as a future career.

Between the mountains and the sea lays a flat terrain of squat houses and a cluster of shops hiding behind the flood wall. It is those mountains and that sea which give shape to my day.


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