All the sevens seventy seven, as the bingo callers chant and the old ladies mark their cards. Does God or Fate or the Malevolent First Cause have a card? At some stage all your numbers have come up? Jackpot! The ads for retirement villages multiply. All of them look like hell to me. The television screen’s full of 1950s happiness and achievement. Young people fly through the air on skis or do four 360 degree turns on their skates. Houses are reinvented , meals are endlessly cooked, cars promise fruition, pizzas arrive and the game continues. Covid’s become a jab, a mask and passes checked, with some bitching about mandates. Jacinda smiles through issues with a serious frown. Old people are punished for being trapped in Aussie and pregnant women are cursed on social media: Stay away bitch, I hope your baby dies.

Let me outta here.

Still, the white butterflies are busy, the blackberries are ripe, tomatoes plentiful, and there are marrows galore. Tuhana has his first swing and six teeth burst through the gums. Language begins to form as squeals and groans, but already he is complex enough.  I enjoy the daily walk to the pond, to see the changes in this very ordinary patch of bush and paddock, the vines that grow, the gorse that falls down after heavy rain, the ever changing path of the creek, the pond level that mysteriously rises and falls, the changes in the bird life, the hares that tease the dogs, the changes in the path of the sun, the weka families that appear and disappear. It is my rough Walden. I find camping spots by the creek that then disappear after a flood, the oldest beech tree’s sturdy trunk plots a hundred or more years. I pick up a small smooth stone as a keep sake and the dog swims for a stick then tears at it in act of savagery which hurts no one. Before I climb back up the hill.

Fairburn wrote in Dominion:

 O lovely time when bliss was taken

as the bird takes nectar from the flower

Happy the sunlit hour, the frost and the heat

Hearts poised at a star’s height

moved in a cloudless world

like gulls above islands.