While in the shower this evening, as orchard grime gurgled down the plughole, for some reason I thought of various people who have stayed in our home over the years.
Goro was a hilarious Japanese man who came to New Zealand to sky-dive. Once back home he wrote us a letter which included the heart-wrenching sentence, "I am disappoint that I not find kiwi girl because I so charming and intelligent and handsome. Also at party I can hit chandelier with cork from champagne bottle".
I replied that he was indeed all of those adjectives and more but perhaps next time he should stay longer than just three days in New Zealand if he wished to snare a female's heart.
Oh yes, now I know why Goro came to mind - while staying with us he joked about how our shower had little pressure, "only one or two dlops water on head maybe, how must Japan man wash hair?".
Then there was Ajith who stayed with us for a few weeks. He quickly became a dear friend and long after his departure, we had the pleasure of remembering Ajith by the packet of hot spices he left in our cupboard called simply "Number 64".
Cossack's eyes watered like Huka Falls and my mouth darted flames and scorched the ceiling as a direct result of eating delicious but dangerous Indian fried chicken coated in "Number 64".
Then there was my Chinese pen-pal, Eli, who I was thrilled to finally meet as we had been corresponding since 1973 when we were both 16 year old school-girls. What a joy to hug my petite friend from Hong Kong when she arrived at the airport and our lives, already intertwined by letters, became even more so by talking until late in the night and sharing our dreams and ideas.
Did I tell you that Gabriel, the French man who shared in our family's Christmas, was black? His handsome presence was very evident during daylight hours but at the the midnight carol service, I didn't even see him sitting right next to me until he lit his candle and at first I thought I was witnessing the Nativity star itself but it was just Gabriel's teeth glowing brightly in that Anglican church pew.
Sometimes I think it would be nice if Cossack were black or brown or yellow or purple because our kids would have turned out gloriously pigmented but I refuse to be so shallow as to hold Cossack's paleness against him. However, on two occasions he held it against me and that is how I suppose we got Ben and Kristen.
We have had many shapes and colours and personalities slumber on our beds. A very tall Norwegian spent one horribly uncomfortable night with his bits of leg from the knees down dangling over the end of the mattress. The next morning he could hardly walk and that made me feel bad for not offering to let him sleep diagonally across the entire lounge with his upper body and head out on the porch.
Well, this interesting array of people have very exotic sounding lives so, while still in the shower, I thought about mine. You see, some people say things about Te Puke like, "Blink and you'll miss it", or, "Bloody logging trucks", and once an American man innocently asked me, "Tell me, is this town pronounced 'Te Puke' as in 'to throw up'?"
Actually, I'll have y'all know that Te Puke and its rural environs is a mighty fine place to live. I can always find a car-park right outside the library to rush in those overdue books and find myself a friend while I'm in there to go have a spontaneous coffee with.
I can fling banana peels over our hedge and play Creedence Clearwater Revival or Pavarotti loud enough so I hear it while out in the garden picking cos lettuce leaves for tonight's salad and no neighbour is close enough to complain.
My job at the orchard is only minutes way and there is no traffic congestion enroute. However most mornings I am lucky enough to have to stop for a herd of cows leisurely crossing the road after milking and I get to inhale the aroma of fresh sloppy cow-pats which splatter my car no matter how slow I drive through them.
No corporate clothes for me. I wear shorts and tee-shirts all summer under the vines and listen to Radio New Zealand National from the little transistor radio in my pocket. Oh yes, my favourite station keeps me informed about the big wide world out there. I know about riots in Syria and the naughty personal life of Italy's Berlusconi and floods in Thailand and Greeks being a little upset by austerity measures designed to save their asses.
I hear interviews with authors and scientists and comedians and bop and lop under the vines to Rock n Roll or Classical or Folk tunes from Peru or Namibia or Portugal.
And when, like right now, I forget that my towel is still drying outside on the washing-line I can run like a maniac from the shower in my birthday-suit to grab it. It's a bit risky doing that in Hong Kong or inner-city Wellington, isn't it Kristen?