It’s still again today, the toi tois upright. That’s saying something in a valley that’s the hottest, coldest, driest and windiest valley in the country. So the legend is. A few winters back it was minus 21 degrees here for three days in a row. And wind enough to send the neighbour’s henhouse with hens flying over the fence or upend corrugated outhouses or sweep my chairs off the verandah as if they were bark.
A still and sunny morning. And in these close-down days, not easy to get to a doctor on a Sunday. First a 40 minute wait on the phone, then two interviews with nurses, then a video conference with the doctor before he agrees to see me and prescribe penicillin. But he wouldn’t do a covid test, telling me the same advice Healthline had – you haven’t been in contact with any known cases… He told me the penicillin would be expensive on a Sunday. But I’d already decided, on hold for forty minutes, that I would do what it took to get better. In the past I haven’t honoured my body so well.
But in the pandemic, in the country, in the dark of night, I understood my health is priceless. “They never tell you anything that’s of any real use,” David Malouf writes in his novel The Great World, which I’m reading at the moment. “Even the books. Even the great ones. You have to learn it for yourself, just as it comes.”.
On the long drive to town we realize autumn has arrived – the poplars turning gold, the willows emerald and yellow. Because this is an essential trip into town, we can guilt-free drive down to sit by the Clutha. The river is cobalt blue. Last week it was summer, then snow, now the leaves are brightening and falling.