Day 134 in the time of this confounding virus and Auckland is in level three again, while the rest of the country is in level two. I think we all knew this was inevitable, for how do you keep the virus out when the borders have to remain partially open to facilitate trade to assist the functioning of the economy and to welcome home those New Zealanders wanting to return.
Recently my friend in public health had said, while walking along the inlet at Ngataringa Bay on a silvery Saturday morning, ‘you need to be prepared, Deborah, for a return of Covid’. And I had responded ‘Please stop. I don’t want to hear. My anxiety is running high. I want to get into my apartment.’ I saw her again today and she said, ‘I knew nothing about this until it happened.’ She had however been focussed, with her team, for some weeks now on the final details of the resurgence response plan. When they pushed the button recently they thought it might either be needed soon or they might just be putting it away in the cupboard and bringing it out at a later date.
My friend was also the person who said, way back, ‘this government is a dream to work alongside.’ And I remember being struck by that. Then last night, when we learned about the return to level three, along with thinking, ‘I can’t bear it,’ followed sometime later with ‘we have done this before. We can do it again,’ lastly I felt a sense of gratitude for Jacinda’s decisive response. They are a dream government and really we are fortunate.
Speaking of last night, oh what a night. It was book club and during the evening, in the time of innocence before the media announcement, we had frightened ourselves thoroughly with talk of the virus. One reader had reviewed Michael Moseley’s new book 'Covid' and as happens in this lively group of thinkers, two of whom are medical laboratory scientists, one of whom is a journalist and another a writer the discussion roamed and stretched out. In the process the tenor dropped and we sat there feeling helpless and disturbed. Then another reader reviewed, quite brilliantly, a terrible, terrible, extraordinary book. 'The Second Sleep' by Richard Harris. It is set in 1468 but not looking back, looking forwards from the year 2025 when there is a breakdown of technical, digital communication leading to an apocalyptic fall into chaos, into social fragmentation and collapse. I will not elaborate on the plot, it felt uncannily close to what is happening now,. We were all wide-eyed. Then ping, a message to a reader, 'turn on the news'. And there was Jacinda looking tired, extremely serious and very thin, wearing the same lovely grey dress from her election campaign launch where she had been smiling, especially following Clarke Gayford's speech, and now she was not. She was delivering the bad news.
This morning when I awoke I tried to plan my morning in a way that wouldn’t be too stressful. I had attempted to visit the supermarket on my way home last night but they closed the doors on me. This morning my friend said don’t queue there go to the dairy instead. When I did, I bought the strangest things. I needed milk but then I saw a tin of Watties asparagus spears and put them on the counter and then wanting more comfort I purchased one small bag of kettle chips. I associate asparagus rolls with my mother's tender care when recovering from stomach ailments. When I was through the sickness she would appear in my bedroom bearing a tray which held a glass of ginger ale with 'Andrews Liver Salts’ stirred in. I have no idea why she did this — the salts made an already fizzy drink even more so — but it doesn't matter I loved it. And on one of her Susie Cooper bread and butter plates, these plates were cream with sage green spots and fluted ornamentation round the rim, there would be two asparagus rolls made with soft white, or wholemeal bread. I still hanker after precisely this when I am recovering from something.
After the dairy I went to the village pharmacy and bought some more face masks and then drifted further up the street to the optometrist to purchase contact lens solution. On the way I stopped at the flower shop and spent $12 on a brilliant blue-red cyclamen plant. So many times this winter I have said, ‘No you don’t need one.’ Today I thought, 'I do.' Also I bought a thin slab of Devonport Chocolate with whole pieces of hokey pokey. Across the street I noted people buying gelato from the stall that is part of The Vic, cinema. Good on them.
Then it was one last look at the world from my apartment with the sliding doors open, breathing in the salty air, gulping in the glorious views, absorbing on my retina the vivid blue-green of the seawater, at high tide lapping at the stone crescent on the edge of Stanley Bay. Construction can continue in level three but if we head into level four my project to create a study nook will be put on hold. More patience is required.