Day 98 and we are living in a state of continuous flux and terrible unknowing as the virus storms through communities causing endless havoc and devastation. 10.5 million reported cases worldwide and 511,000 deaths to date. And as the numbers continue to rise we witness, in stark relief, the light and dark sides of human behaviour, acts of shining selflessness particularly those medical professionals who are risking their own lives to care for the sick and the appalling rapaciousness of politicians. Today I learned that the US have purchased all the supplies, that is all the stocks in the world —if we are to believe the Guardian source —of the one steroid drug that is offering a treatment that can save lives. How incredibly selfish and inconsiderate. What is wrong with the Republican government and its idiot fake president whose stupid, inept management of the pandemic has caused endless suffering, death and hardship. When will this end? And what will be left at the conclusion?
We are so very fortunate to be living in New Zealand at this time led by a brilliant Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern who took decisive action so early in the pandemic, when there were very few cases and then managed to contain the spread of the virus and stop community transmission. Still I think to myself. Amazing. Good woman. We must never forget that the sense of freedom we are enjoying now is a direct result of those actions. I believe we are the only country in the world to currently be in such an enviable position. But though the relief is sweet we can not escape the wider economic and social consequences of this catastrophe. Nobody is immune to the trail of disaster. Here in New Zealand, in order to ensure our continued safety we must cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and float adrift. This means a halt in tourism and brings with it an eerie sense of being alone.
When I travelled to Christchurch a week ago the thing that troubled me was the silence in the departure halls, the emptiness of spaces that normally pulsed with life. It was only kiwis travelling and while it is essential that people support the economy in this way our domestic spending is a drop in the ocean and will surely be insufficient to ensure the continuing viability of airlines and businesses built around tourism. Only a month ago we hoped we might have an open trans-Tasman bubble very soon and that a steady flow or travellers back and forth would sustain the tourism industry, but the brief breach in our own border, when two infected people raced through the country carrying Covid-19 with them, and then the recent alarming rise of cases in Melbourne have shattered that possibility for the time being. Soon after our lapse Scott Morrison squelched the idea of opening the bubble anytime soon. And now the feeling is mutual on this side of the Tasman as we read with dismay and concern about the fate of Victorians living in the identified suburb hotspots who must now return to a state of lockdown. This is serious for businesses just getting back on their feet and harsh on public morale as well. Journeying back into lockdown must feel like a backward step bringing with it dreaded restrictions on movement and more anxiety.
These are challenging times. For myself, although I have finally found a home and there is joy and relief in the new situation this does not insulate me from the repercussions of the coronavirus. I am separated from my son in Sydney and this makes me anxious. He has been gone four years now and I had adjusted to his absence but the recent restrictions on movement mean I can’t up and visit him should he need to see me, nor he me. There had been plans for him to come home soon to greet the new baby.
There is a saying ‘when one door closes another opens.’ In my case it has happened the other way round, the door had opened and provided a new home in a wonderful setting but I have had a terrible disappointment in my writing life, with a big project falling over and a door slammed shut. The project grew in lockdown and seemed to be on firm ground only to halt very recently. Ah. At least I am better equipped to deal with disappointment these days. The experiences of the past three years have been so hard I have been forced to grow a carapace that inures me to shock and difficulty. I can pause and halt the spiral down before it begins, can catch the old outmoded thought patterns before they warm up and speak to them. In Buddhist philosophy it is the concept of equanimity that saves us.
I want to finish this entry on something simple and enjoyable. Last Saturday I met my friend at the storage unit in the city, feeling doubtful we would be able to extract anything useful from the tightly packed space for my new apartment but determination is a good driver. We cleared a space and she climbed onto the metal filing cabinet and picked out a strange collection of items: one solid rimu stool that had seen better days, one dining chair, one occasional chair with a floral patterned cover, tawny autumn leaves on cream, and we rolled out the desk chair from near the front. One box of possessions was easily accessed. Later I would find inside six black tea cannisters, one pale green eggshell ceramic mug, one place mat, my mother's lace-edged afternoon tea cloth, a small saucepan and one small fry pan. It was like opening parcels in a lucky dip. Each item was greeted with cries of love. And then there was a Rick Rudd black ceramic stupa, with a gold cap, sitting at the front of the storage container. Once it was a focal point in a dry stream bed in my garden, juxtaposed against a row of weeping salvia uglinosa that produced pale blue flowers in summer and the native carex with its flowing strappy form, some balls of pruned coprosma and in the foreground the Persimmon tree its leaves flame-coloured in autumn and the Mutabilis rose with its delicate apricot and pink flower-heads.
I wanted it. My friend frowned but very patiently she helped me wiggle it onto a blanket and then down onto our trolley. Lovingly we lifted it, like a body into the boot of her big car taking care not to dislodge the pale green lichen on its surface. It took years for that plant matter to collect. At the apartment we carried the precious artefact into the lift and placed it on a small balcony against a black column. It sits there now without its garden foliage but with Takarunga behind instead and the gray-blue sea washing in below.