It isn’t summer until the strawberries are here – and the strawberries are here! New Zealand strawberries are the best in the whole world, and they taste the nicest on the the same day they are picked. Sorry rest of world – you miss out. Whipped cream, a sprinkling of icing sugar – heaven! Work well with champagne and ice cream too. And we have universal health care too. Who would want to live anywhere else?
Grief has a funny way of catching us by surprise. One minute you can be fine and then something happens; a memory, a habitual phrase, or in this case a borrowed book found on a bookshelf. Objects may be inaminate but they can be powerful totems that invoke past times, places and emotions.
The brillant thing about living on a thin strip of land in a vast ocean is that the weather changes so quickly. None of this continental weather carry on where it stays the same for weeks on end. Instead, New Zealand gets lashings of wind, rain and sunshine on a regular basis, sometimes minute by minute. It is actually possible here to stand in the rain and get sunburnt at the same time. Yesterday, wet and miserable, today a beautiful blue sky Friday. Although, it does seems the universe is mocking everyone who had Guy Fawkes last night – see, it says, if you had only waited until tonight you would have had perfect weather. The universe is an ironic bastard a lot of the time.
In the great tradition of New Zealand Guy Fawkes, it is cold, grey and drizzling. Tonight, the nation will stand outside under umbrellas, or huddled under porches, watching pyromanical Kiwi males glory in setting off fireworks. It takes only a tiny scratch on the surface to find the caveman dancing around the fire beneath. Fireworks names always seem to have vaguely sexual undertones (golden shower anyone?), and in keeping with that theme, go on for a far shorter time than expected – “Is that it?”
The acrid smell of gunpowder gradually fills the night air and forever remains one of those scents that instantly transports us back to our childhood. The women will drift off to sit down and have a glass of wine after putting the younger kids to bed, while the older kids pick over the backyard like crows on a battlefield, seeking any fireworks that failed to go off. Short fuses, I fear thee not! The men will then scramble around in the box hoping by some magic a particularly good one lies at the bottom, as they lament the banning of thunderbolt crackers and skyrockets. Ah, those were the days, although it has reduced the mortality rate of letterboxes and rubbish bins considerably. Several days later the household pets reappear, unless they have taken refuge in the bed, then they are found quite quickly when their claws connect with your toes.
“You have to own your days and name them, each one of them, every one of them, or else the years go right by and none of them belong to you.”
From A Thousand Clowns