A tui has just hurtled past, going at great speed under the fronds of the tree fern. For such a large bird its movement is amazing, weaving between trees. It headed towards the neighbour’s large kowhai.
It seems to spend more and more time there. Is it aware that spring’s coming and it’s establishing territory in anticipation of the nectar from the blossom? If not, its behaviour suggests it is. Or is it the security of leaves? The bare branches of the copper beech beside the kowhai do not seem to attract it. Maybe, it’s a nationalist. The word 'native tree' carries connotations.
His self-assurance, enthusiasm and energy made my day. The miracle of modern flight. (I know. I know. The carbon footprint. It’s still a miracle). I have a brother in Canada at present visiting his daughter who lives there. Margaret, my sister-in-law who came up with Janine, Ryan’s mother has just been to London to visit her other two daughters who work there. The three of them had a side-trip flight to Venice. At one time the journey from England to New Zealand took half a year. Visits were rare.
Ryan’s great-grandmother, my mother, touched Kingsford Smith’s plane ‘the Southern Cross’ at Wigram after the first successful trans-Tasman flight. As she told the story they were listening to the radio describing his flight when her father said ‘let’s go through and see it land’. Granny said ‘I haven’t done the dishes’ and Pop said ‘blow the dishes’ and so off they went. Gravel Roads then, the trip from Little River to Christchurch was a big adventure. They got there in time to see it land. Mum’s brother went up the steps to look into the interior. Mum used to say ‘I wish I’d gone up those steps.' In her 97 years she only flew three times and never left New Zealand.
All young children are determined. But two and a half-year old Ryan appears to be more than most. It’s a family characteristic. Years ago, speaking about my mother, when she'd been frustratingly difficult I muttered ‘she’s nothing but a stupid, stubborn, old git’. Janine replied, ‘takes after her eldest son.’ We grinned at one another - family truths. I was that eldest son.
Apparently Ryan was upset when bunny was taken off him to be put through the screening machine. Life’s not as we would have it. My flying days are well and truly over. I’m tired of dreams at night with my body, hale, hearty, active and lithe in spirit. I awake to the thump of the machine puffing oxygen into my lungs and muscles that work at quarter-power.
This morning though I surprised myself and did manage extremely well in a lull in the rain to make it with the walker to the local shops – quite a feat. My caregiver’s encouragement helped. She walked further on to the post box to return the DVD Anne and I watched last evening, a French movie ‘A Very Long Engagement’ starring the beautiful Audrey Tautou. Throughout a very complicated plot she kept looking for her missing fiancée after the end of the Great War. In the end she found him.
I woke up this morning surprisingly cheerful. Ryan (as did his mother and grandmother) helped. So did Tautou. And the tui. All three carry a message - the miracle of hope.
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago