In the east, Rough Ridge golden as ever, the tors slanting against a blue sky.
On Blackstone Hill, to the west, shreds of cloud murky over the ridges and gullies. Beyond the willows, in their first flush of yellowing, and deep into the southwest, grey clouds mass. The breeze is buffetty from the southwest too. How long can the blue remain?
At Ranfurly, the nurse calls out from the surgery window: “Stay in your car.” Shortly, the doctor walks out fully gowned and masked and gloved. There’s an outdoor table set up with a line of testing kits. Beyond the carpark, the Kakanui Ranges.
I wish last night I hadn’t read that having a covid test was like 20 out of 10 for pain. Until then I hadn’t considered the practicalities. But how bad can a slim stick be?
“You haven’t got tears,” the doctor says. I must be doing it wrong.” I think its because the process is so interesting. Not just the swab stuck so far up your nose it feels like its touching your brain, but to be out in a gravelled yard at all, a nurse calling questions from the window. Thirty seconds without blinking, and it’s over, somewhere on the comfort zone between a mammogram and cervical smear.
Over forty thousand people have sat just like this in their cars or wherever, enduring the prong, with the same hope that in not too far-off days, we will be going back to work and ordering coffees again, and those of us who need to stay safe will be safe.
I don’t know what it is that makes the sheep outside my window startle and begin their trek through the grass again, in single file and mobs (ah, now after weeks, there is a reason: three young people in shorts and five eager dogs.) One young man shuts the gate, closing the sheep in the front paddock, and then I see the farmer at the far gate, which is open.
Perhaps the days of plodding sheep in my dry and tawny fields are over. But as for all of us, we follow what the Government says, against our own desires, and not only because the government says so, but because, as, American author Wendell Berry says, the government ‘governs by the consent of the people.’ And the people want to do what it takes to be through this.
A pinprick to the brain. And for the sake of those I dwell among, I am grateful to say, a negative one.