Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Question

You know how it is, when you're sitting out in the dark, 50 kilometres from the nearest place of inhabitation, and you turn on the light, even the tiniest little three LED gizmo. Immediately its like there's a convention of moths and assorted flying bugs crawling all over you, desperate to be in the light, even when they've just seen others who beat them there crushed to death. What inspires them? More important, what were they doing just before the light went on? Hanging about hoping against hope that someone would turn on a light even when the reality is that that is highly unlikely. Sure moths and bugs don't do statistics, but they must have been doing something in the area. What?

So, my New Year's Eve was celebrated in typical Man Overboard style, and turned out rather better than last year's. I had had vague thoughts of going to the Cusp, since I was in Nelson and all, but after having a nice mussell chowder at Yaza and a wander around Blackmore's bookshop, I'd pretty much had enough Nelson. Well, not Nelson itself so much as the huge numbers of people, making it impossible to walk down the footpath without getting in someone's way. I had to escape. First stop, Richmond: my, hasn't it grown since I was there last. It even has a mall now. It came as no surpise to read that that's the fastest growing place in New Zealand. In fact, there were too many people there for me as well, so it was off to Motueka with some vague plan to get out beyond Collingwood formulating as I drove.

In Mot, I stopped for a decent coffee at Blast Espresso bar (with marks off for spilling half over the side) and wandered around till the urge to move on hit. My first time driving over the Takaka Hill - its a bit of a mission! Takaka itself hadn't changed at all since I was there a couple of years ago, although the Whole food (I think that's what its called) Cafe had lost some of its appeal: I think it was actually exactly the same but I wasn't. Heading west, it was an easy drive to Collingwood, a tiny little town stuck on a wee point of land, just a pub, dairy, foodmarket, camping ground, museum and several motels. Oh, and the Court cafe, in the old Collingwood courthouse: I wonder how long ago that was in use. There was something very comfortable about Collingwood, to the point that I checked out the price of staying in the camping ground.

It was walking into the pub that stopped me - I had no desire to spend the evening there. So, I drove some more. Out to Farewell Spit, out to some beach where I had to ditch Webster and walk the last bit, then finally to a place I am sure was called Cape Foulwind (but not the one at Westport). I parked up at the cliff edge, thinking it would be so cool to sleep there but immediately became anxious - what if the cliff edge was unstable, and parking a vehicle was the last straw? Completely irrational I know, but I couldn't sleep up there, went back down onto the flat. Still a nice spot - I had my moon chair, my book, Jolie Holland on the stereo, some cold beer. If you really have to spend New Year's Eve on your own, I think this is the way to do it - I had no wish to be with lots of people who were out having a good time with each other nor to have to explain myself sufficiently to join in with anyone.

On New Year's day, I hung over the guardrail of the cliff and watched a typical New Zealand family, with one subtle twist, going about their celebration. Dad was laying immobilised on the rocks, in fact he was so immobile I hadn't noticed him until he started to shout to the kids - maybe he was saying to be careful, or to bring him some lunch, I don't really know. Mum was beside him, looking after the baby of the family. Then the two teenagers were out in the surf, and I swear that they were actually surfing, then they'd swim across the incoming waves, then flap about idly - really enjoying themselves. The one thing that made this family just that little bit different was that they were seals.


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