The 26th begins this tale of the last days of July. Come into the passenger's seat here with me, listen to the wind bow the trees, truck suspensions grunting over potholes, rapids winding downriver settling the storm; and the ticking of time as feet point upwards perched between door and window.
I have you here in my heart. A thought, a happiness long past. We shared days in the sun, cuddled for warmth during rain, joked about opinions and rational assumptions.
But numb are the laughs. Dying days for ghosts.
I sit by the fireside, coffee and poached eggs, morning light drifts between trees. I wonder: Is this the end? All I have to look forward to - collecting wood, drying it over ashes, washing dishes in the river, reading a book when mind and body are too tired for anything else.
Or will spring raise the spirits up and remember feet are for walking, the pen is for writing, the mind is for thinking? Is today just a dead day?
I have you here in my heart. Sleep wants me to forget, light all I can see. I awake to me, as I have always been.
What is it about the salty sea breeze, lapping waves, rusted chains? These things that set me at ease? Glistening sun across ocean bays, harbouring yachts, crustacean homes on weathered rocks. So far away the horizon speaks of unknowns, eternal dreams, far from the pat of feet across concrete walkways travelling a pondering mind forward. Always forward.
My mother is the daughter of a fisherman; My grandfather, in his later life, made nets. I remember visiting the sheds once in Gisborne where they all hung up and he was there trawling through used nets looking for holes to repair; I see his worn and sunburnt Italian hands knitting the nylon materials through knots and patterns he held in his mind. I remember his laughter and joy, the good spirits he held in his heart up to his last days. These are all the merits I see in my mother. Her love never dies.
I have been drawn to the ocean for years. Songs I've written would occasionally feature stories about ocean life throughout my years as a songwriter: 'The Pirate's Flesh', 'Diamond Betrayal', 'Dullfish Angler', "Daddy never came home...", and 'Seafarer' are some of the songs that feature heavily the force of the ocean in the lives of men, and sometimes the impact on family. The Blessing's 'Hurricane Room' from their debut album Prince of the Deep Water has been one of the 'great songs' of my life, a tale about travelling coastlines, the oceans, and the colourful characters and situations around that; not so much a 'tale', but a travelogue of experiences through imagery, and a chorus that pleads "I sing my misappropriation song for lovers land-locked far too long."
Yet, I am not an ocean dweller. Nor do I see myself becoming one. The ocean has fascinated me, occupied my mind; perhaps will remain the greatest force of nature untameable by humans. Winds scour the earth, we harness them for power; fires scorch and destroy land and houses, we use it to keep our houses warm; mass oceans of salty water filled with life, we dump our garbage into, trawl nets to feed the masses... But the ocean will have the last say. When the winds become too destructive and carry too many storms for us to inhabit ground level, will we burrow into the grounds, or will we finally seek refuge by sinking into the watery depths?
Clouds are low here in Nelson. They fascinate me too. Crawling across surrounding hilltops, resting in the crevices, the slopes and valleys; I have never seen such low cloud cover before. This morning it covers all of the Tasman bay, hanging just above us all. If we climbed one of those hills opposite the bay, as we got to the top we'd walk straight into the cloud cover. Today's forecast was for sunshine.
My river campsite calls me. The river is a pathway to the ocean. Maybe I will walk the pathway only, return to the boulders and stones, the scavenged dry wood; and be content there, be at ease there, be at peace there. Far from the maddening crowds, the traffic cues and horns, the forced conversations, the deserted conversations; the desire to only know those in an immediate circle and leave others to perish with the vultures. The city has no desire to nourish, nor those entrapped inside it; the individual must break free if they are to be true to themselves, true to their human nature; true to acceptance, trusting, supportive, and loving.
Life expectancy is low when walls of the city enclose. Helping others lives only through the dollar sign, every bit of dishonesty builds to alienate the honest, to trample sincerity, to disown trust.
Are we too soft? Is this what honesty breeds? Can't lie to save myself, can't force my will to get what I want, can't pretend to ignore the strife.
Hopelessness dreams of escape.
I have lost faith in finding any kind of happiness.
- 06/08/18, Richmond
When the river's high, when the river sighs, when the rain falls, when the branches bow, bend and break; the night quiet, the day cold, warm, but alive.
Alive, alive, alive...
Water is lava as I skip from exposed stone to boulder avoiding winter's cold, early morning fog rising, sunlight glistening dew drops into brilliant red rays glancing into my sight; Silt and mud lava as I use all my momentum movements learnt from playing Portal to conserve energy while climbing rock slips from February's Cyclone Gita, feet bouncing off edges until stability is found on flat surfaces and the next logical leaps and steps can be identified before moving upwards, closer to the origins of the stream that falls through collapsed trees, clay crevices, and underground springs. I play the "no hands" game, using my feet as much as possible without the reliance of hands and arms for balance. This requires certainty about foot placement, and certainty about moving off a position if placement is temporary or questionable - the feet and legs become cooperative workers with eyes.
My world, made up of days scavenging for dry firewood to boil water for the early morning black coffee with a twist of lemon juice, drying clothes and towels washed in the river over tree branches on the other side of the river where sunlight spends most of the day drying and warming stones on the bank side. An occasional visit from a weka, pīwakawakas, a black cat in the night... (random - I only saw the cat once. Nice surprise!)
And I write.
I write because it keeps me believing in myself, like no one else can. My new theme song races through my mind, knowing the lyricist took his own life in 2017 by hanging, knowing this year suicide was on the doorstep again and words manifested themselves through the imagery of nooses. None of them were pretty.
But it is the unknown that becomes known by doing, by conquering, that sets each in motion, legs moving, arms scooping and reaching, fingers and hands clutching a pen to get the words down. I have never felt more content, more in control.
Some updates to keep me updated.