Driftwood bridges

Dani Deluka about reaching across water to touch those we can’t and how a village can help get us to the other side.

I am grateful for the quiet of April. 

This stillness. Is something else. Something good. 

Easter is different this year. We are connected. We are home.

On the eve of Good Friday we sat on the huge grey rock that held us high while we watched the golden supermoon rise in the sky, and we sipped whiskey from a small World War Two silver hip flask. On the way home we heard a seal clapping in the dark as if applauding the earth. 

That day we rode our old bikes to see the Marines Memorial.

I was enthralled by this local story and shocked that I had never been before. 

As always, I am in love with the sea.

In the beginning I craved a killer whale to hurl itself up and out of the waves so I could exhale the emotion I was going through. I could not get on an international plane to see my son in his school show and bring him home. It was a long time, for both of us. And now. We have to wait for winter. 

But we praise the positive. This morning he said ‘Mum I can see my feet in the saltwater!’

In Hong Kong, on his island, this is a miracle worth mentioning.

On Easter Sunday I was mesmerised by colourful paper Easter egg trees blowing in the wind that popped up on our morning walk.

The daily walk, now being an event in itself. It’s beautiful to see whole families out in their bubbles. Some who choose early dawn, some dusk, others the middle of the day. Some, like us, all three. 

Kids beam and scream and topple off as they cross driftwood bridges over the stream.

We wave a cheery mōrena! We are the lucky ones who have bush and beach to amble over. 

Finally, on Monday, wild waves blew salt air through the flotsam of my mind. I was grateful for this release of tension. This crazy. I still wanted to dive in, and swim across the ocean, to him.

But I could visit my daughter briefly at a distance and she held out a plate of gluten free homemade chocolate chip biscuits for me. I stopped to cry for the sadness and the beauty of this moment. To see a child but not hug them, is hard.

But there were fuzzy brown bears and velveteen rabbits everywhere that gave me a salute and made me smile as we drove on and waved goodbye.

I have a newfound gratitude for our bird life. 

For the angel white spoonbill and the shag with a silver fish wrestling in its hungry mouth. For the three fat tuis who chortle on a bare branch not bothered by us at all. For the piwakawaka whānau outside my bedroom window. For all nature. The seven butterfly chrysalis are now a blessing to observe. The black one about to burst into glorious orange flame. 

We sip chai tea on our deck as if we have all the time in the world and we share smoko. 

Whare’s on all the streets waft the aroma of homemade hot cross buns. And we are thrilled to have the soundtrack of Paekakariki FM, our local radio voices, so familiar and comforting as we potter and tinker about in our wooden sheds and gardens. 

As we emerge from this lockdown I imagine we will remember this time as a valley of hope and kindness. We will remember fondly baking bread, making pumpkin soup and little collaborations of children getting creative, colouring in, making huts, building large lego cities, playing board games and jumping on chalk hopscotch.  

It was fun dusting off the classic books on the shelf. Robin Hyde, Katherine Mansfield and Janet Frame. Such a joy to read them in this hunker down. (But won’t it be wonderful when the library opens again!)

Mostly we will note the generosity and abundance of simple gifts. Bagpipes playing Happy Birthday from the footpath. The sound of the cello, number seven, on Ames Street, at sunset. Neighbours checking in on each other. Kia ora!

Not to forget the free counselling, the seedlings for koha, from the wonderful growers of this village, underground wifi connected to those who need it and delivery boxes of supplies from our very special general store and anonymous donors.

Long may the calm of this autumn continue. But let’s hope the quarantine is lifted eventually so we can all have coffee and kōrero together in our community spirit.

This is the heart and soul of our small town. It swells to humungous in times of crisis. Well done everyone!

After this we will hold a masquerade ball and dance up a storm. 

And we will lay down the red carpet for our essential workers and give you our hands clasped in namaste prayer. A standing ovation for you all.

Kia mihi

Kia mihi

Kia mihi