Thursday, May 24, 2012


On these chilly mornings, instead of getting out of bed with glad cries, I lean over and open the curtain before snuggling back. My neighbours, you see, are kind enough to glance over and check that I've made it through the night before they go to work and I don't want them to worry.

So, if it's cold, I lie in bed and look at the sky-line for a while before getting up. Check the weather. Do the clouds look angry? There is a sort of forest between my house and the estuary of two rivers, and sometimes the view is soothing to contemplate, with just a breeze to stir the heads of the big old pine trees. Other times the south-westerly bustles across from the Southern Alps and makes the trees dance. That's when the poodle in the sky becomes agitated. It tosses its head, puffs out its chest and yaps excitedly, as poodles do.

If I stand at the window and look out I don't see the poodle up there. It is simply part of the whispering sky-line. In fact, when I went out this morning to take a picture of it, I couldn't, at first, find it. It is only when I am recumbent, lying on my side, in bed, being lazy, that I see it properly. It is like watching clouds drifting by and seeing faces, objects, constantly changing – the imagination has to work a little and the mind must be receptive. The poodle, however, is not a cloud, it is fixed and always there. For the moment.

Since the earthquakes started – 10,600 plus and still counting – the estuary has risen and the forest floor has sunk. At high tide the water now seeps across towards us and makes the ground swampy. The pine trees don't like wet feet and they are dying. If they should fall – and some are leaning dangerously – they could damage houses and even kill someone. It has been decreed that the pines must come down and chainsaws have begun, from the far end, to roar and screech their way towards us, bringing down the mighty pine trees as they come.

There are more than a thousand trees to be felled. It is not all bad news. New plantings will take the place of the old – trees and shrubs which prefer the new wet and slightly salty habitat. Although the men started work three weeks ago, I couldn't hear the chainsaws at first. Now I can just hear them in the distance, and it won't be long before the sky-line that I can see from my bed will be changed forever. The poodle in the sky will see that coming before I do. No wonder it seemed so agitated this morning.

P.S. (dated 30th May) The poodle has gone.

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