a) I rang Margaret my sister-in-law last evening. It was snowing on their farm near Mt Hutt. Snow also closed the Rimutuka hill road between Wellington and the Wairarapa. The farmer’s son in me always thinks of the poor new-born lambs in a September snowstorm.
b) Sir Howard Morrison has died. He was a great entertainer. He straddled two worlds with ease, a Maori and a New Zealander.
c) It has just been announced that Sue Bradford is resigning as an MP. She will be missed. She was a voice of integrity.
d) In a farmer’s field in Stafordshire, England they have discovered the largest treasury ever of Anglo-Saxon jewellery, gold and silver and precious stones including garnets. Anne and I both wear a garnet ring. When we first got together I bought her one and a few years later she found one for me. When we got married used these rings for the ceremony.
e) This morning’s Dominion has an editorial about the possibility that we will not free-to-air viewing of next year’s Commonwealth Games. That would be a travesty and a tragedy. Sky, which looks likely to win the contract, is talking about Prime. But that could mean delayed coverage. There are times when being a New Zealander counts and that is one of them and to hell with the almighty dollar.
f) The thrush is on the lawn. My hunch is that the reason it abandoned its nest building in the shrub outside my window was the strong overnight wind blew away the semi-built construction.
g) The mock orange blossom hedge is bursting into flower, a spectacular sight.
h) I’ve been dipping into the Johnston and Marsack NZ poetry collection. It’s always interesting to see what others select when they make a choice. I’m enjoying the Bernadette Hall pieces – ‘blackberries thicken like blood clots.’
i) I’ve also been reading a book Geoff lent me Sam Elworthy’s Ritual Song of Defiance: A Social Hisotry of Students at Otago University. I was interested to learn that right from the start women students were allowed there. In those early days, however, there was strict segregation and dress codes. Accounts of life in the 1950s stirred many memories, life at Canterbury was very similar – hostel initiation, capping, drinking horns, sexual exploration, (mainly kissing and the occasional heavy petting, those were pre-pill days) and escapades.
j) Publisher Roger Steele came to visit yesterday. The anthology of New Zealand poems I’ve been working on, These I Have Loved is ready for publication so we talked about that. He brought me two books. One was a well-illustrated biography of Mervyn Taylor. As a boy I loved his wood-cuts in the old school journal. His model Frances Porter lives two apartments away. The other book was Charlotte Trevalla’s poetry book Because Paradise. Charlotte, 17 years old is still at school, Rangiruru. She has won several prizes already. I like the look of the poems and look forward to reading them. Roger has always had superb covers, in this case it is two large Huntsman spiders.
k) A good food day. Duty porridge as usual for breakfast. Then fresh asparagus for lunch, one of my favourites. I was disappointed when I went to Europe. Asparagus there is not green, it's white, they pack straw over the growing spears. The result is an insipid taste, not the vibrant twang of ours. Oliver is coming for dinner. He’s been given whitebait so I look forward to that.
l) I’ve decided to shift my bedroom downstairs. Twice I’ve nearly stumbled on the stairs and the risk of a fall alarms me. It’ll mean a big upheaval – oxygen machine and tubing etc will have to be shifted. It’s always sad to see a change that reduces options but this one is wise. We’re planning for the weekend of 10 October.