Saturday, February 26, 2011

Carpe diem

A hot sunny Saturday, all the now-scattered family free at once, so off together to Waiheke Island again to remind ourselves in one afternoon of what it used to be like for a week. The ferry was chokka: not just with locals but lots of tourists from today's cruise ship and elsewhere, so it was standing room only on the top deck with the views of harbour, bridge, skyscrapers, yachts big and little, volcanic cones, Devonport, Rangitoto, Bean Rock... all the usual much-loved elements of a trip out on the Waitemata.

There were Russians next to me on the bus to Palm Beach after our brunch at Wai, new to us with its fancy deck overlooking the turquoise water of the bay. "Tropical!" the gift shop lady and I agreed. "Who needs to go to Thailand?" we asked each other smugly.

Anyway, the Russians: their spoiled little boy sulkily gave me his seat on the crowded bus and I asked where they lived. "Central America," his mother said, and as I was thinking "Panama? Guatemala? Honduras?" she went on to clarify "Nebraska". That certainly explained their excitement at going to the beach. I didn't see them there, but I did wallow in the perfectly warm water and watched as a young man walked down the sand into the little waves, cool and confident right up to the moment he stepped into a hole and fell flat on his face, emerging spluttering and embarrassed, looking around to see if he'd been observed. "I saw," I called out cheerily, and he had the grace to grin.

It was a lovely day of simple summer pleasures, and when we took the ferry back again the water was sparkling pewter as we headed into the west, silhouetted yachts heeled over as they skimmed back to the marina. And beyond and behind them all, on top of the Harbour Bridge, the flags were flying at half-mast for the people dead in Christchurch, lying in the rubble, still waiting to be recovered.

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