February letter

Dear:

Today I climbed a tree. It was big enough for A and me to climb at the same time, both of us finding toeholds and places to pull ourselves up, until the branches got skinny and doubtful. The bark was smooth and dry and a little warm, like someone’s hand I’d like to hold for a long time. Today I also saw a little piglet dead on the road, the one that keeps getting out near Waima. I’ve passed it so many times with its little snout dipping and its hind legs kicking out as it runs down the highway, and all the worry ending in the worst made for a teary drive home.

I’ve been making valentines and chopping up the vegetables for a night of summer salads. I made seaweed salad for the first time today and I think I soaked the seaweed too long, better luck next time. I listened to a song I love 7 times, Koop’s “Beyond the Son”, and now all my thoughts are running in a spoken-word-song. I’ve been thinking about all the people I love, the people I miss, the ones who make me smile or give me safe harbor because heaven knows I need it sometimes.

The kids and I foraged along Manning Street the other day and scrounged up a mug-worth of ripe blackberries. They only cost me four minor scratches on my right arm, and it wasn’t even the blackberries that got me—it was the gorse.

That’s a partial answer to your question about what I’m doing with my days in New Zealand. Of course I’m dithering about in near-perpetual sunshine and sea breezes, and of course there are days when I wake up with a kink in my neck or the humidity and blowflies get to me or I’d like to be with S and her new baby. I’ve changed my latitude extensively, to find that it was a lateral move. If we’re lucky, they almost always are.

February’s let loose with some of its best winter savagery, I hear. Movement and music will take you through the worst of it, and take an extra sip of something warm for my sake. I’ll be here driving into the brilliant sunrise, making sure to water the garden before 10am, doing sprints and climbing trees with my boy, fighting the good fight to find a bit of happiness every day.

Sincerely yours,
With affection
From the land of the long white cloud

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