My last night in Wellington was a very pleasant book party in Island Bay (like a tupperware party, but with my books instead of plastic containers, and no games). Next morning, I set off from the South Coast, the southern most tip of the North Island, and drove north, mostly up State Highway 1. Notable sights on the way included the street trees of Levin pollarded into creepy skeletal hands reaching skyward, a convoy of seven identical white campervans heading south through Rangitikei and a tank bristling with soldiers trundling across the tussock near Waiouru.
I made a fruitless detour to Palmerston North to see if I could find an appropriate gallery to offer my books to, but a circuit of their grim Square in chilly drizzle yielded nothing hopeful. I sat in a cafe to write down the poem I'd been composing since Linsdale (sample: Love leaves, and then keeps going back to make sure the oven really is turned off). And then was reminded that, while intuition is a very good guide for running many aspects of my life, it is not necessarily up to navigating my way out of a strange town lacking in signage. I narrowly escaped a long drive to Napier by asking for directions.
On a rest break in Turangi my cellphone rang and it was my second oldest friend (only Jane has known me longer) calling from her farm in Upstate New York. I don't know how she got the number since we haven't talked for years, but we caught up on the major news in our, and our children's, lives. Like most of my friends in the USA she wants to leave, appalled by their current government and changing society. I've been thinking about her lots these last months because living at her family's farm was the main farm/rural life experience I've had until now. Organic garlic in summer and maple syrup in winter, making brooms, home schooling and home birthing (I was defacto midwife for her unexpectedly swift second birth). It was in many ways idyllic, but I was defeated by the harsh winters there.
Then I drove up the west side of Lake Taupo which I prefer for the many trees, little traffic and
Whakamaru dam crossing with associated lake and crags. The pull northwards to Whangarei is a physical sensation, an elastic umbilicus tugging at my waist, and my mind is full of thoughts of home places and work I will do when I get there.