Wandering Thoughts

April 19, 2009

Gravel Roads and Aching Bones


Holidays in aching bones are different, but different isn’t always bad. I’d rather be walking or surfing but I’m not. And so –

When you can’t move much you think carefully about the place you’re going to stay. And when you’re there, you notice things that might have passed you by had your own momentum been greater.

We’re at Riversdale, staying in a cabin in the grounds of Orui station. A quiet bend in the coast; the weather tempered by topography. Other than summer holidays it’s rarely busy; on weekdays in winter it’s on the edge of empty. There are irritations – joyriding teenagers in quad bikes first amongst them – but they’re usually escapable.

On calm mornings, the sun wakes up over the glassy sea, warm from the first, washing everything in melted red, then green. On days like today when the Nor’Wester is blowing the sky becomes stretched; rain clouds trapped far to the west along the Tararuas, high clouds spread out, hurrying – bent by the jet stream into streaks and sweeps.

The first afternoon we were here I went for a bodysurf. Limber enough, just. Catching the waste high waves that pitched over the sandbars. I even got a couple of barrels, a couple of moments watching the pitch and swirl of watery light before being tumbled through the shallows. As I did all this – some weird middle aged guy in a wetsuit and a hood, bounding about in the already too cold sea – the day gave way to evening and strokes of sunlight turned everything to a weary rural gold.

Yesterday we drove up to the empty coast at Otahome, looking north to Castlepoint. Today I’m sitting by the cabin, on the edge of the homestead’s gardens, kept company by the farm cat. There’s a grey warbler singing somewhere and the wind is in the trees, coaxing quiet applause from the poplars and sighs from the ancient pines.

The sky is sailing by – a storm in the Tasman maybe but here, two mountain ranges East we’re far enough away for all of that to be missing us, resting by the sea.



And yesterday we drove home, via Flatpoint, along the gravel forestry road, break pads smelling of burning dust. I scanned the coast for surf spots and we made it to Gladstone by late afternoon. The grass was still summer brown but the willows and poplars were filled with autumn colours. Chocolate in Greytown and sun set as we got home.


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