15 February 2021 Day 322 in the time of coronavirus and here we go again. Three new cases of the highly contagious UK variant of covid-19 have been detected in the community with, as yet, an unclear trajectory of transmission. In response Auckland went into lockdown, level 3 at 11.59pm last night while the alert level for the rest of the country was raised to level 2. Along with the sudden and unexpected disruption to busy lives, many lovely plans for the week, gone in a puff, we are experiencing truly awful, weather in Auckland city. From up here in the tower the wind has been blowing a gale, roaring under the eaves, thumping on windows with such ill-tempered force it has infected my spirits. The mist shrouding the view — I haven’t seen Rangitoto all day — is less jarring though. Water vapour dulls the colour palette and softens forms making for an ethereal composition.
Early this morning , in spite of the weather, I dressed in my exercise gear, pulling on my waterproof as I left the apartment and walked into the storm. Down to the bay I went, through the park, along the side of the inlet pushing against the wind and rain. My skirt was drenched and I couldn’t care less. I needed the elements to shake me, stir me, help me feel alive on this first new day of uncertainty in 2021.
Life had been so good recently as summer rolled on endlessly. Each morning I had awakened to skies of limitless blue, bright light turning the water in the bay an opaque turquoise. I would look across to the volcanic cone of Takarunga/Mt Victoria sun kissed and golden in the mid-distance and Rangitoto on the horizon, the colour of blue slate and shimmering in the heat haze and wonder what will this gorgeous day bring? And then the spell of enchantment was broken dramatically. I was in the middle of chatting with my son in Sydney, when the text came through from my son-in-law. Auckland is going into level 3 at midnight. ‘What!’ I replied. ‘I can’t remember what we do in level 3.’ It has been six months since the August outbreak and in the intervening period we’ve enjoyed a level of freedom not experienced anywhere else in the world, as far as I’m aware, except perhaps Taiwan.
When I returned in from the walk and dried myself off, I began work on something that has dragged on too long, thinking I could use the time in home isolation wisely but I couldn’t stick at the task. I decided to tidy the kitchen cupboards instead and wondered about baking something but again I flitted from one thing to another and then stopped for lunch. At the table I read the column on health and nutrition in an old issue of the ‘Listener ‘. It described the bad eating habits of people in lockdown. Apparently, consumption of salt, sugary drinks, fats and chocolate skyrocketed. I then returned to the writing but very soon found myself succumbing to an overwhelming urge to lie down on the new divan in my study nook and read some more of Alison Jones 'This Pakeha Life: an unsettled memoir'. I was enjoying the section on feminism and her role in the protests of the 1970s and 1980s, clad in her dyed pink builder's overalls, badges pinned on, 'Abortion: A Woman's Right to Choose', 'Fight Inequality', and riding her Suzuki motorbike revelling in the feeling of speed. Next thing I startled awake and found the book resting on my chest.
What to do now? I needed fresh milk for my tea. At the dairy I bought the milk, which was all I needed, and then grabbed a big bottle of ginger ale, a big bottle of tonic, and surprising myself, I bought a cylinder of Pringles! Original! I haven’t eaten Pringles since the ‘seventies. But they tasted good, along with a tall glass of tonic and ice, flavoured with wedges of fresh lemon and drops of Angostura bitters, as I sat watching the miserable roll out of news on tv…