Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tangelos and Tears 11-11-11

For several months I have wondered what today - the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 2011 - might bring. Would a mini-asteroid hurtle itself right between my eyeballs in some kind of cosmic baseball game or profound words appear written in the sky at exactly 11 minutes past 11am?  Neither happened.

When all those number ones lined themselves up so obediently in a row, we were busy picking tangelos, standing on wooden-benches to get at the higher ones. My senses were bombarded by nature's loveliness. The fruit glowed brilliant orange against a bright blue sky and zillions of pretty white blossoms filled the air with a heavenly scent. As I reached up to snip each tangelo my face was warmed by the sun that shone gently through the branches.

When I got thirsty all I had to do was pierce a large ripe tangelo and squeeze the sweet juice straight into my mouth. It trickled down my face and arms and I was a grubby little toddler for whom life is simple and good.

But life isn't always simple and good. Sometimes it is confusing and unfair.

This afternoon the same gentle sun shone down on a group of us as we gathered at the cemetery to farewell a baby in a tiny white coffin all covered in yellow flowers. He had never even taken a breath or cried or gurgled in delight because he was still-born last monday.

There is something so wrong in this scenario where a baby, so eagerly awaited, is lowered into a hole in the ground as we all shed tears and wonder why. I watch as the mother and father toss rose-petals over their son and then step softly and sadly aside to let the rest of us do the same.

Back in 2009, Kristen insisted that our family go to the Simon and Garfunkel concert to be held in Auckland because, as she correctly pointed out, "They are incredible and they might never ever perform together again". She was a poor university student at the time so, of course, the idea was that Cossack and I pay for the very expensive tickets which would provide an evening so special and beautiful that our family would be bound by the memories thereof  for ever and ever, Amen.

Those of you who were at that wonderful concert on the 13th June at the Vector Arena will remember that during, "Bridge over Troubled Water", the sound system mucked up leaving just the stage sound and a confused-looking Simon and Garfunkel.   The crowd took over and sung the words until the sound came back on.

"That was the nicest thing an audience has ever done for us", remarked Garfunkel.

And tonight, by beautiful planning on the part of Radio New Zealand, they played a 1969 Simon and Garfunkel concert at 11pm while I sit here tapping out this blog on 11/11/2011.

"Feeling Groovy" was followed by "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "Homeward Bound" and the others that stir up our souls.

When you're weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, let us carry you through. And after however long it takes, we can one day get back to kickin' down the cobble-stones, feeling loved and feeling groovy.

Rest in God's peace, Ethan.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

In Which Loppers Hack at my Mid-Life Crisis

Armed with a make-belief sense of menopausal power and a large pair of loppers I have been pruning kiwifruit vines over the last couple of months and, with each cane that I flung to the ground, came the intense satisfaction that comes from seeing order emerge out of chaos. Neatness from a tangle. Sweetness from a wrangle. Each particularly difficult hunk of wood that I lopped and then had the pleasure of kicking into the middle of the row for mulching came to symbolize my last boss whose  sarcastic words and withering glances caused me to quit a job I really liked. 

I departed that cafe job there and then before my ego could be minced any more  like flour, eggs and spinach in a pasta machine and then boiled of course. So, with head held high and any would-be-runaway-emotions tightly corseted to my chest I calmly but fearfully walked out.

My grin started out in the car-park and got as wide as  a banana while I contemplated my freedom.  I have a life to live. Things to do. Sensational moments to stumble upon. 

It wasn’t until I got home that I doubted that very much. "So much for your  magnificent bravado today, Bernadette!", I sighed to myself. "You have cast yourself upon the rubble heap of unemployment.  You are a middle-aged, impulsive and incredibly stupid woman".  I was about to thump my forehead several times in succession against a very hard wall when the phone rang. 

Thank God for our orchardist friend who said, "See you at 8 am, Bern, and not a minute later". He didn't ask. He instructed. He had obviously heard about my self-inflicted predicament and felt either sympathy or intense amusement.

And so I turned up next day at 7.46am looking like a scarecrow in clothes so old that even the Op Shop where they came from once upon a time would never consider taking back.

I threw my peanut butter-sandwiches and banana into the Smoko Room and thus began the new chapter of manual labour mentioned above.  And if it has proved to be a little harsh on my scrawny body, it has also been a little bit good for my soul that thirsted like crazy for a breath of fresh air.