Sunday, December 5, 2010

"I wish I had a river / I could skate away on"

Don't fret, I'm not nearly as melancholy as Joni Mitchell in "River", whose lyric provided the title of today's blog. Although now that I think about it, the line "But it don't snow here / It stays pretty green" *is* indeed appropriate for me this Christmas...

Sunday today, the day of rest; as such, I got to sleep in until 8am (although I woke up at 6:25am due to the sunlight streaming in my window), and didn't have to work in the garden today. I made myself porridge for breakfast by heating milk and oatmeal on the stove in a saucepan, and ate it outside in the garden, watching as the sun rose over the hill and the roof of the house. This morning was bright and sunny, and even at 8:30am I could feel the sun's intensity: the UV Index can hit 13 here at midday in the summer (for reference, a UVI of 10 is considered "extreme"). In fact, the sun's intensity is about 40% greater here than it is at comparable latitudes in the northern hemisphere (like home!). I am religious about sunscreen and wearing a hat, but even so my freckles have reappeared at levels not seen since I was in elementary school.

Skye and Finn went to church this morning, while I stayed home and did a load of laundry. After hanging it out in the backyard to dry, I headed off down Ruataniwha Street to check out the Central Hawke's Bay Farmer's Market on the other side of High Street (Interstate Highway 2). Well, there wasn't much going on there, seeing as today is the one Sunday a month there is a big Farmer's Market up in Hastings, so most of the vendors chose to go to that venue instead. Undaunted, I kept walking down the path, and soon found myself wandering on the banks of the Waipawa River. I slipped off my shoes and socks and went for a wade across its rocky bottom (it was similar to the Cowichan River in its broader spots). I ended up on the far bank under the shade of some willow trees, sitting on a branch over the water listening to Christmas music on my iPod. First up: A Steven Colbert Christmas. I still can't listen to "Nutmeg" without snickering. :-)

Waipawa is definitely a sleepy little place, but also home to some very beautiful old houses and gorgeous gardens; the town was founded in 1860, which makes it 150 years old this year, and also earns it the title of New Zealand's oldest inland town. As I walked back along the river I took in the foundations for the old railway trestle (weatherbeaten wooden posts still embedded in the river gravel next to the trusses of the current one), and in Coronation Park I saw an old brick building proclaiming "Apex Milk" on its front, surrounded by rusting machinery and piping equipment. I wonder when it was built, or last used...

This afternoon I spent writing, reading, and weeding the gravel around the birdbath out front after the sun had moved around to the far side of the house. After dinner, Skye took Finn and I over to see her friends, Elizabeth and Warwick, who live down the street and up the hill. Warwick used to be a piano tuner and rebuilder, and they have an 1885 Bechstein in their beautiful home! Warwick invited me to come up and play it whenever suits my fancy, and he has requested that I come at 7:30pm this Wednesday to play for him. Yikes, but also yea! He has some music, too, including Chopin's Waltzes and Bach's French Suites, so with the music in front of me I should be able to perform some passable renditions of the music I learned for my last jury.

I'm going to bed now, with visions of piano sonatas dancing in my head. :-) Night!


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