It is almost exactly two years since I celebrated a substantial pay rise by buying some expensive Italian boots. They were on sale, but still cost considerably more than any other footwear I've bought before or since. Not fashionable high heels, or indeed fashionable in any way: they are Scarpas, quality leather tramping boots.
At that time, I had no idea when or how I could overcome the obstacles then standing between me and my long held desire to live in or near Northland bush, but by buying the boots I was making an investment in the future I longed for. I was living in innercity Wellington, working full time, and without a car. Access to any bush at all was a rare treat and I hardly ever got to wear my beautiful boots. They remained unscuffed and not-quite-broken-in until early this year when I finally made my move north.
They are now looking satisfyingly well worn (see below) and are comfortable enough for increasingly long walks several times a week. Locations that I thought of as distant destinations when I first arrived are now launching pads for my explorations further and further into the hills. I guess I am getting fitter too, but it is curiosity that takes me further, sometimes so far that I return home exhausted and filthy with mud and pittosporum tar.
The last few walks I have been trying to find a track that will connect two ridges at the end of the back farm's valley. This search generally commences an hour or so's walk from home, at the top of the ridge where I found the dead kiwi on my first weekend. I have followed half a dozen tracks, often into DOC 'Kiwi Zones', which either fizzle out into dense undergrowth or veer off in quite the wrong direction. I know this loop exists because my neighbours walked it at Easter, but from the other hill top. Next time I go out I will take their route, which I have resisted thus far because it is steep track without any shade. I will pick a cool and overcast day and set off early, with a packed lunch and my expensive Italian boots. I'll let you know how I go.