“Do you have plans for Queen’s Birthday weekend?” Carrie asked me, just after NZ moved to covid19 level 2. “Want to go on a tramp?”
Did I ever! The last time I was out on an overnight excursion was months ago, in that other lifetime of normality we had before The Pandemic.
NZ celebrates the Queen of England’s birthday the first weekend in June, always on a Monday because that’s much more convenient than her actual birthday. I feel a bit silly celebrating the monarch of England’s birthday as an American, but whatever, it’s a good three-day weekend mid-winter. Long live the Queen.
Because it’s winter, we planned two weekends and three tramps. Three different locations in case we had to switch around to miss the rain/snow/wind, and two different weekends in case the first one was entirely not suitable. It’s an insurance formula that works well for winter.
By principle, I do not check the weather maps for the weekend until Thursday. I hate looking at them early, waffling on a decision, and having to look at them and make a possibly entirely new decision on new information again later in the week. But this time I broke my rule and looked on Wednesday, and the weather looked calm and dry over almost the whole south island for most of the weekend. What luck! The forecast held, and on Saturday morning we launched up to hike Plan Number One: Mole Tops in the Nelson Lakes region. It’s a bit too far to drive for just an overnight, but having two nights out made it worth it.
I SHOULD have taken a picture of the Durville hut boat dock with Carrie’s husband, sister in law, and nephews there to meet us the next day at noon. Definitely boat taxi service with a smile. Also smiling up at us from the clear lake waters under the dock were half a dozen gigantic eels, and we shuttered to think that we had jumped in this same water just this past February after our Blue Lake walk. No temptation to do that this time!
The wilderness is a comforting reminder. A virus might run through most of the world’s population, the economies of the world may have groaned to a halt, and the fabric of human society may be ripping, but the mountains still rise, the moon still waxes, and the trees still grow moss-laden in the forest.
Milo is an interesting creature right now. He can be very responsible and capable, even quite pleasant company. Still, he’s egocentric as all get-out. He expounds upon the egregiousness of everyone else’s actions without a hint of realization that they might well feel aggrieved in their own right by his behavior. Tonight he had a long tearful moan about the unfairness of his mates and declared that he wants to move to Mars. I laughed and told him he should look under the playground slide for a Mars Portal, then gave him a hug and read him Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. He took it in good humor. A little affection and empathy seems to go a long way with him, but he seems incapable of extending the same to others. Hopefully it’s all part of the growing up process. Whether or not he’s learning much academically at school (they seem to have taken it very easy the first week back), school is an academy for social skills.
Oh, and speaking of learning social skills, the kids have both been enamored of the earthier side of humor lately, expelling giant farts with relish and magnifying their burps with wide open mouths. As parents, we are less than amused. Naomi had a new friend over this afternoon, a perky little girl who is the middle child of 5, and Milo tried out his silly act with her. Apparently it went over well, because he reported “Amelia has a sense of humor that doesn’t occur in our house…..she laughs when I smack my butt!” Fantastic.
With the kids back at school this week, I’m back to work at my usual hours. Work pretty feels pretty close like normal now, after I run the temperature scan gauntlet.
Everyone must submit to the laser thermometer pointed at one’s forehead on the way in the door. I still cringe at this. I don’t like lasers pointed at my head because it looks like a gun. Plus I remain thoroughly American in my sense of privacy; the site manager is a tall man, and my internal body temperature feels a bit too….personal. I comfort myself with the fact that the thermometer only reads the outside, because while the average human body temperature is 36.5-37.5C, I’ve never heard anyone with a reading higher than 36.5C. Tomorrow I’ll wear a hat and crank the car heater to see if I can get up to 37, which is the “send home” trigger. Yeah…. because if I try to game the system I don’t feel quite so much like a pawn.
We still try to give our work makes some extra space and don’t pass through doorways simultaneously, but it doesn’t feel extreme…..except when it comes to tea and lunch breaks.
Oh, and I guess the other odd thing that remains at work is that the door knobs are perpetually damp from the thrice daily sterilizing. But I don’t really mind this.
“It takes so long to get dressed!” Milo exclaimed this morning as he stalked into the kitchen. “For two months I’ve been wearing nothing.”
It does take a second or two to put on a tee-shirt, perhaps. He has been basically living in undies and a bathrobe since March.
“Back to school….worse day of the whole year.” Clearly he was channeling his inner Eeyore this morning, and he was not thrilled at the prospect of school.
I understand that. I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of going to work either.
No, that’s not my career trajectory, unfortunately. It’s something much less important, but it gets my vote for Delight of the Day.
Today is the 49th day of Social Isolation. When we awake tomorrow, it’ll be the 50th day since we started the covid19 lockdown, and we will be in alert Level 2, with a lot more businesses starting back up, and a lot less isolation. We didn’t know how long the lock down would last when it started, otherwise it would have made a nice symmetrical advent calendar.
This is an epic curve that has been flattened. Only time will tell if it’s been flat long enough to have gotten rid of the virus in NZ.
I asked the kids to show me their school work when got home from work today and sitting next to Milo I kept noticing a peculiar smell. I’m due for a shower, I know, but a quick snuffle under my arm and I was in the clear. I began to sniff further afield.
I pressed my nose to Milo’s arm pit–there it was, the distinct smell of unwashed underarms. I checked the other side. Nope, it wasn’t an anomaly. He smelled on both sides! My little 9-year-old squirt must be growing up! “Smell me, smell me!” Naomi never wants to be left out of the action. But no, she was still sweet little kid, despite romping around and neglecting her school work all day. She pouted. “But I’m growing too, Mom!”
“Yes, dear, of course you are growing, you’re growing a lot….. but Milo just has a head start on being stinky. You’re not missing out on a good thing….. But getting smelly underarms isn’t a bad thing either,” I hastened to say, hoping Milo wasn’t going to feel self conscious. “It’s just part of growing up.” Wow, I might want to practice this conversation when I feel a bit more on my game.
Oh, and speaking of changes, New Zealand is moving to Covid19 alert level 2 on Thursday. That means almost all sections of the economy can open back up, but there are still significant safety precautions like limitations on numbers in gatherings, and distancing rules for busy social places like restaurants. Most significantly for us, it means the kids will be back to school starting on Monday.
It’s been a hard season at home, but in many ways it’s been good too. I’ve actually missed the kids the last two days when I’ve been at work. Hopefully we can savor these last couple days in the home bubble before the business of life begins again.
I went on a bike ride down the old TaiTapu Rd this afternoon and the weather started to close in on my way back with a light misty sprinkle.
I love red. I always have. It’s not a calm color; it’s INTENSE and I ADORE it. It was so fun to run into this one, unexpectedly cheerful for no good reason at all.