Day 65 in the time of coronavirus and something civilised and lovely, from the time before, was reinstated here. My very good hosts invited me to share lunch today with them and their invited guests. I was so excited I put on my raincoat, grabbed my scissors and raced out into the drizzle to gather flowers from the neighbourhood. I was quite brazen about it. I already had one flowering shrub in mind. I’d passed it on numerous occasions. I think it is the flowering red current ‘ribes sanguineum’, very twiggy but the dark pink flowers are marvellous. Snip, snip, snip, down the lovely streets leading to the golf course, passing the tiny colonial cottages and leaning in and cutting camellias, lavender, one bright yellow dandelion, why not, a lovely pale hibiscus with a pinkish tint for the centre piece, glossy green native foliage, autumn leaves and one velvety spire from my favourite salvia, the ‘leucantha.’ Rounding the corner, my bouquet increasing in size, I passed a woman on a bike. She looked at the floral cornucopia and smiled. Emboldened I gathered some more.
The table was laid with a white cloth and set with fine white china. There were wine glasses and a water jug, lemon wedges floating. Lunch was a pacific inspired soup and Ruth’s homemade wholemeal bread with sunflower seeds followed by freshly baked baklava made with honey and ground walnuts, an offering from the male guest. Oh the pleasure to be found in savouring good food while absorbing bright conversation. It is sweeter coming out of the time of lockdown. You don’t realise until it happens how much you have missed these social rituals.
I am moving closer towards finding a home here on this side of the harbour. It feels big somehow. For almost three years now I have tossed and turned over the dilemma of where to put down roots. Strangely I have become so accustomed to living with discomfort and uncertainty — never liking it though — that now that the possibility of having a stable base is within my grasp, I find it hard to assimilate.
Last night I climbed up the steep slopes of Takarunga to ponder the approaching change. As I wound around the cone lost in thought, feeling a little grief-stricken as I looked down through the trees at the historic graveyard below, a thought ripped through me. Am I betraying my parents by rejecting their south island, the place of my birth, the site of my mother’s grave in Ellesmere and my father and brother’s rose, the ‘peace’ rose at the Linwood Memorial Rose Garden, the place where my Scottish and Danish and English ancestors settled so long ago? High on the mountain above the silvery sea I felt so far away from my roots and wondered about the wisdom of my decision. I realise I am not alone. This must be something many displaced people ache over.
Winding further up the dormant volcano to the view of the city on the other side of the harbour more doubts flooded in. I’m leaving my friends over there while only beginning to meet people here. I stepped then onto the highest viewing point and saw directly in front a group of young people gathered around a sixteen year-old male and his red motorbike (I have no idea how he got it to the top of cone for it is closed to traffic). I knew him. He is the son of close friends. His face broke into a most glorious smile as I said hello and admired the beautiful shiny machine. He introduced me then to his friends who acknowledged me with a smile. And suddenly I felt okay about everything. 'Relax' said a voice. 'Trust in serendipity. Let it happen. All will be well.'