“Yikes, look at that car park! We had better carry that tent!” Carrie counted a dozen cars as we rolled into the muddy paddock that was the start of the Toaroa valley track. And the group just organizing themselves to set off was about 10 college kids debating whether they needed two or three liters of marguarita mix, on top of the Raro and vodka that was already packed.
Of course, it WAS a holiday weekend (God save the Queen! And keep those birthdays rolling), and the east coast forecast was miserable drizzle and cold rain for three days straight. West Coast, uncharacteristically, was meant to be blue skies. We were also headed to a well known hut within 4 hours of the road that was famed for its hot pools. Blue skies + long weekend + accessible hut + good hot pools = popular.
On the way there Carrie and I indulged in some much-needed womanly communion, covering the gamut of husband-dreaded topics (relationships, pregnancy, woman in careers, mama guilt….).
Much refreshed in mind (though ready for a rest in body), we arrived at the hut just in time for afternoon tea.
The hot pools really were FANTASTIC. I have been roundly disappointed with natural hot springs many times before. In my imagination they should be like my childhood pop-up book with Japanese macaques calmly poking their heads up and down though the clear steamy water, snow encrusted mountains surrounding the serene pools. In reality all the natural hot pools I’ve visited have been ankle-deep in slime (bacteria like the warm sulfury water) and swarming with ravenous blood-sucking sandflies.
The trail was a no-nonsense shortest route to the a mountain saddle. Read that as STEEP. When you go straight up it’s amazing how fast you gain altitude.
As we drove back over the Alps towards the east coast the clouds got thicker and the roads got wetter. It was still raining, same as when we had left Saturday morning. I’d like to say that we were thinking compassionately of our husbands who had been minding the kids on their own over the long wet weekend, but….
Floaty pink dresses, spins, sparkles, high pitched voices, and a teacher addressing you as a ballerina. What could be better? (Hint: imagine you’re a four-year-old girl.)
Still, it’s interesting to watch. Miss Amelia, the teacher, pitches her voice a constant octave above normal, reminding one of a tinny barbie doll (in sound, if not in look), but she’s no pansy. There is a set of twins that don’t focus very well and are often off in left field, so-to-speak, yet she handles them with grace, charm, and command….and all in falsetto! The girls don’t even realize they are being managed. She’s brilliant.
Flotsam and jetsam.
Can you guess where this odd assortment was found?
Yep. Behind the couch.
I imagine every family accumulates a similar collection (except ours is singularly lacking in currency):
A suckerfish from the Go Fish deck
The Ubiquitous Marble
Ammunition originating from two different types of weapons–nerf guns and a sling shot
Arielle’s plastic purple skirt
Wrapper from a mini Toblerone–probably consumed clandestinely
Home-dried raisins, in a container (the good thing is that the environment of the house is dry enough to dehydrate fruit–they would have molded in the last place)
Pink and purple paper house
Two halves of the same acorn
A headless beetle….
And there’s only one reason to delve that deep into the underworld–we are moving again. This time into a house we have purchased.
The misty rain stopped and the sun peaked out. I had borrowed entertainment for Milo in the form of a play mate for the afternoon, so that hazard was sorted. On an errand to the garage I spied the tray of plants I brought home from work yesterday. THAT’s what I needed. Some peaceful weeding an an opportunity to mull over the last chapter of the book I was reading.
“Can I help you plant those flowers?” Naomi asked as she watched me collect my tray. I hesitated. I really just wanted an escape….but I OUGHT to enjoy her company. “Ok,” I consented, bowing my shoulders.
“I can put the plants in the holes,” she offered.
“I’ll pick up your jersey and hang it here on my scooter so it doesn’t get grassy,” she continued, thoughtfully.
“I’ll get the green bin for those weeds,” she enthused, as she trundled a wheely bin twice her size up the driveway.
In short, she was a joy to have around. I felt guilty for wanting solitude in the first place.
It’s amazing how the situation can feel the exact opposite that self same morning.
“Milo, stop! Don’t grab from Naomi!” He finishes the lego-recovery-mission he had embarked upon as if he was deaf. Naomi howls. Milo swats. Naomi kicks. “STOP!” I yell, grabbing his arm. “SIT BACK DOWN AND FINISH YOUR OATMEAL.” “YOU sit back down and finish your breakfast too,” I command Naomi. She sits next to Milo. Milo crawls over the table and sits at the other end. She moves again to sit next to him, dribbling milk along the way. He walks over the table top, grinning at me. Then he and his oatmeal get banished to the porch, where he sits and bangs on the window. Going to work is so much easier, I think, rubbing my eyes that feel tired and old. I take a sip of the cup of tea which I never manage to drink hot and wondering how to break this miserable cycle.
Autumn in Canterbury can be savory. Golden days where the mean burn of the sun is gone and the heat is welcome. Calm winds; blue skies. Grass has turned green again.
I’ve talked to Sally for years at a craft group we both frequent. We saw them in Murchison at a kayak club weekend. Her husband Nathan joined us for the Old Ghost Rd bike ride in January. But this was the first weekend trip we tried out as families. It’s a test of sorts: 1. Are kids compatible? 2. Are husbands compatible? 3. Are our ideas of what constitutes a fun activity compatible?
Check. Check. Check.
The woods part of the drive was very pretty–Lush west coast bush is completely different than beach forests of the east coast.