Sunday 29 March 2015

On Waitangi weekend, Jesse and I went to Russell. It’s a small town in the upper North Island. We’d visited there for about an hour last year. I don’t know if it was the sunshine or the beer or the feta-pea-and-rocket salad we shared, or that it was the last day of our holiday, but I never wanted to leave. Never.

So we went back. It’s hard to go back to a place you love, unwise to expect it to be unchanged, but Russell was wonderful. 

It’s a tiny town, with wide streets and weatherboard cottages with Historic Place plaques on their picket fences. 

The first evening we were there, we sat near the beach with a beer, and watched the sun go down. 

We stayed in a motel with a clowder of cats, and I insisted we take a walking tour of historic places. 

We wandered through the cemetery, and i switched my camera to “art mode”. 

There was a party in the bowls club, and I wondered, What if we stayed? Setting aside the pressing who would employ us, what if we lived in a cottage near the beach and raised a family of cats and tasted wine at the vineyards and bought a kayak and went to the bowls club but never anywhere else. “This is nice,” I said aloud. 

We went on a dolphin tour. It was meant to be swim with dolphins, but the dolphins didn’t want to play and we couldn’t get in the water with them. “They’re sleeping,” said the dolphin guides, “Sleeping as they swim.” It’s hard to imagine it being more amazing though. We spotted more dolphins, ones that were awake, and lay on the bow of the ship and watched the dolphins leap just past our noses. “This is magical!” I said, and it really was.

That afternoon we swam in the clearest water I have ever seen. It was as warm as a bathtub. We swam out to the raft anchored off shore, and dived from it into the ocean as a cruise ship drifted past, heading out to sea.  

There were crowds at the waterfront on Waitingi Day. i watched the navy frigates pop pretend cannons at each other. Jesse missed - he was looking at the postcards and laughing at a dog who was scared of the noise. He asked the lady at the ticket office what was on, at Waitangi, and she looked down her nose. “The Treaty?” she said. "It’s the anniversary.”
We know. We knew that. But specifically? We bought tickets across the harbour. 

It was hot and raining. There were stalls full of food, and bouncy castles. It was a family, celebration atmosphere, nothing like you see on the news. We listened to the banter of a musician (‘When the pakeha came, they rowed backwards. The Maori, they thought they were ghosts! Maori, and everyone in the Pacific Islands rows forwards, so everyone can see where they’re going. It’s only Pakeha that rows backwards, with only one man steering.’)

There were three stages, and we paused to watch the poi. Nearby, there were four policeman around the flagpole, watching. A hiko filed past, waving flags high. 

When we waited for the ferry back across the bay, children dived from the bridge into the harbour - dozens of them, first a handful in unison, then one after another, like heartbeats.

When we checked out of the motel, I held a kitten. “You can take that one home,” said the landlady, offhand. 
“I wish I could,” I said. “But I can’t.”

We took the long way home, via Opononi and Tane Mahuta. Back to being employed and beers on back decks instead of beaches. Who would ever leave a place like that?

Friday 27 March 2015

A bundle of knitting

I've been knitting lately (and always). Here's a bundle of recently finished projects.

This baby hat was for Jenn, who apologised for losing the first one I knit her. "You USED it?" I said. "I'll knit you another one in that case." It was the hat she dressed her baby in to take home from the hospital: baby's first car ride, a seminal event. I was so touched when I learned that I cried a little. Of course she can have another.

No pattern, except in my head - I've been thinking about writing it up.

The second set is just the same, without the ears, for Jenn's sister, and also to use up that skein of blue - there is a lack of boy-babies in my circle.

I knit a lace shawl in a beautiful fingering weight mink (mink!!) I bought a few years ago.

It has a glorious drape, and a gentle halo.

The pattern is Shore

There's no pattern for this next one - it was meant to fit a niece, but. 

Hmm. Whatever.

I finished a sweater!! This is the Peggy Sue

It's got a deep cable hem to pull in the waist. 

And I added tiny, vintage mother-of-pearl buttons.

Finally - I ripped out the ribbing of the hat I made Jesse two Christmases ago, and reknit it deeper. It popped off his head before, and while I didn't mind so much in the heat of last Christmas. This Christmas I crocheted his dad a hat which fits perfectly. 

"I like your dad best, that's why his hat fits," I teased. But we were going to the South Island, the boy needed a hat.

He threw out his boughten-hat, which is tremendously gratifying, but looking again at that ribbing, it could have been an inch deeper still. 

Finally! I know I have been absentee recently (an old joke - Q: How do you begin a blog post? A: Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but...), please take me at my word when I say I couldn't help it, and there were reasons. Thank you all for sticking with me, and let's get back on the horse together.