February 24 2016 Maungaturoto, North Island, New Zealand
I feel that at last I’ve arrived.
Unpacked, unlagged, unstressed. I sit in the breathy shade of the white-painted, tin-roofed, verandah of a single storey 1890s wooden house, moved from a town to this rural North Island plot decades ago to be a family ‘bach’. Two weeks’ travelling and walking clothes flap brightly in the sunshine. Cool leftover salad for lunch, a smile in my heart and a desire for my fingers to dance on my travelling keyboard. I am a journey woman again, writing journey words.
The only tinnitus I hear now after these concussed months is the cicadas’ shiver and insect telegraphy, happily entering my head from the outside. My muscles clench and tighten from leaping and riding surf, from walking the steep, stepped track to the old volcanic peak of Mt Manaia, and down again. One thousand steps up, one thousand steps down. I am regaining fitness with balance, body and head speak again the same language.
In the solid, multi-trunked macrocarpa tree in front of me, dark-evergreen tufted fingers pointing this way and that from chunking roots to grooved-trunk tops, a mynah bird runs through its buzzing, clicking ringtone opus.
Thick black bees punctuate blue sage spikes with droning apostrophes like a gentle, old-school teacher in a thick-aired, summer afternoon as torn leaves of wide, slow-flapping butterflies wink their way to pollen. A cockerel crows from down the green valley where arching trees twist strands of candy floss clouds from an agapanthus sky. A cow haunts the unseen meadow with a moan.
I have travelled through the industrialised, impersonal processing of mass international travel like a brutalised, daylight-starved, intensively-reared heifer, an abacus of flight codes, seat numbers, minutes’ late and baggage claims clattering in the neon, eye-piercing glitter of windowless, consumer-driven, branded yet anonymous airport sheds. Held in corrals and queues for hours to be stamped, ticketed, coded and checked for foreign bodies in my shoes and food before at last being pardoned and released into fresh air, real light, dizzy with destination.
‘It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive,’ Rudyard Kipling wrote.
Copyright Christine Cooke 2016