Friday, July 6, 2012

Blue, Like Eternity

I shut the door gently, I did not leave a note to say "Sorry gallery closed today".  I just slipped out and felt a lift to my spirits that was heightened by a definite sense of rebellion.  I had been at my desk peering at accounts for 6 or 7 days in a row, and now the job was finished, all our business stuff away to the IRD, and I was out seeking air.  Overhead the sky was a deep blue that you would tumble away into if you looked at it too long. The breath of winter was chilly on the skin, but the weak sunshine eased some of the cold away.


It was one of those afternoons where the land seemed particularly empty of animal life, human or otherwise.  I did see a horse looking over a gate, a hand full of sheep, and a Hawk slow circling above a marsh, but there was a quality to the afternoon that was like an intake of breath. A stillness.


I walked passed the farm where a while ago I used to buy fresh vegetables.  The land which had once been cabbages, carrots, berries, and beetroot, was now rough grass, and there were no sheep or lambs.  I was invaded by sadness.


Mick that used to work the land there through summer heat and drought and winter cold, died some months ago, and I miss the chats that I had with him about the farm, and the sight of his woolly hat, his honest face and working hands.  Sad, but good to think of him though.

I made my way to the beach.  It is a journey of about 2 kilometers from here, maybe slightly more. I chose a route that went beside the golf course.  Funny places golf courses.  All that mowed grass, those sand traps, dainty trees, neither too big nor to small, and little clusters of people walking and stopping like remnants of an army on maneuvers. All that pacing, plotting, and practicing to hit a tiny hard ball a long way down green paths, past dangerous traps, and into a little hole, not just once, but eighteen times!  I have never "got" golf.  We did get shown how to strike a golf ball once.  I could make contact with it before the lesson, but afterward I could either swoosh at air, or dig bone jarring craters in the green.  Golf seems a very up tight sort of a game, and most of the golf players I know have bad backs!  Walking down one fairway were a pair of Paradise ducks that seemed to be imitating a more distant group of golfers. They had the golfers' gait and the air of concentration. I got a laugh out of that!


The thing that I liked about my walk past the golf course was that this is where you get the first real glimpse of the sea.  It is at the road's end, and is framed by the double line of blond trunked leafless trees that mark the road's progress through the landscape. The colour of the water, a strong purple blue, was so robust that it was almost shocking.  It was a colour that lodged in my chest.


I stood on a sand dune and listened to the waves as they lifted above the mirror of the sea and galloped forward to their destruction below me.


The tide was nearly full, with just a narrow ribbon of sand above it, that was regularly swept by the advancing waves.


Beaches have their own sounds.  There are pebble strewn beaches where the rocks grind against each other as the water stirs them, and waves can sound like a truck load of stones being dumped onto a hard surface.  There are beaches where waves whisper, hiss, and sigh.


Our beach has long waves that tear like Velcro as the crest starts to topple, then the final collapse on the beach is accompanied by a growl that changes to a steam-like hiss as the water starts to suck back again.


The sand was white with two day old frost where it was in shade and untroubled by sea.

A man that I did not know stopped, and we talked about the difficulty, impossibility, of making a living as a fisherman.  He had spent much of his life at sea and was from a family of seafarers, and now he worked on the wharf loading ships with a crane.  Pale grey-violet with distance a cargo ship waited just off the narrow entrance to the Otago Harbour. "Loading that with logs is my job tomorrow", my companion said.


I returned by a path that took me through a grove of old pine trees, there the low sun cut shadows with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel and scattered them on the ground. You could trip on shadows like that.

24 comments:

Linda Starr said...

Gripping post Peter, glad you slipped out.

Tracey Broome said...

bliss

smartcat said...

Beautiful day, beautiful country. Thanks for taking us along.

Angie said...

What a beautifully written piece ...I really was with you on your walk ...hearing the sea ...you were so discriptive ...and the photos were stunning. Thank you so much for sharing your escape from captivity.xx

cookingwithgas said...

Oh Peter, thank you for taking us on your walk- I could hear the ocean waves. Sweet, sweet post.

Barbara Rogers said...

This lovely mix of pictures and prose gave me an emotional experience I had not anticipated. What a surprise! What pleasant feelings. Not just showing me your walk, your thoughts, but bringing it to another level. Thanks so much.

Judy Shreve said...

Beautiful post Peter - feels as if I visited and took that lovely walk with you. And that blue - is stupendous!

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad you played hookey from work Peter and just enjoyed that marvelous walk. Your pictures and descriptions were perfect. I actually feel refreshed myself. Thanks.

Melissa Rohrer said...

Glad you got away for that walk. Beautiful pictures.

Michèle Hastings said...

lovely scenery, thank you for sharing.
(and I feel the same about golf)

Peter said...

Thank you, all of you, for your kind and thoughtful comments. It sounds like you traveled along with me! I am happy to share what I can of the beauty of this area with you, and the cool air, as I know that many of you are having a most difficult, and impossibly hot summer.

Welcome to Barbara Rogers, commenting here for the first time, it is lovely to hear from you.

Kind Thoughts, P

Armelle said...

Beautiful New Zealand in your aera Peter !!! And the color of the sea, wowwwwwwwwwww !!!

Peter said...

Wow indeed Armelle, I think it is my missing blue chun. Maybe I should try adding sea water to my glaze bucket!!!

TropiClay Studio said...

I know how you feel about the color of the ocean. Here, it has such a variety of blues, depending on the depth and the composition of the bottom. It can range from a beautiful turquoise green, to the deepest navy blue, and so many shades in between...
Sometimes I miss the cold (I grew up in Minnesota - near the Canadian border) but then reason raises its head, and I realize that these ole' abused joints probably wouldn't work very well in the cold.
It's always nice to "step away" and take a break. It rejuvenates the mind, and the body. Watch out and don't trip on any of those shadows, you wouldn't want to bruise the knees!

Peter said...

Thank you TropiClay Studio for your delightful comment, really good to hear from you. We are lucky living close to the sea. I used to be a painter before I was a potter, and I spent many hours with my watercolours trying to capture the colours of the sea. Here the colour varies with the time of the year, I wonder if that happens in the tropics where there is not so much seasonal change?? I still have some memories of the colour that the sea went one winter when we were living in the North of England, and the sea water nearly froze! At that time we were taught at school that we were heading for a mini ice age, and it certainly seemed like it!

I put hot water into the water that I use when I am throwing pots, it definitely makes winter potting more possible for my old joints!

Julia said...

What a beautiful and moving post!

Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog! You made my week!

Peter said...

Really nice to hear that Julia, good to hear from you. P

Amy said...

What a gifted writer you are. Made me want to go out and take a walk again and experience the ordinary in it and let it take me. I had to laugh about the golf part- I feel the same way and there are golf courses everywhere here where I live. I myself would prefer those places to be left 'wild' and untouched by humanity. Thanks for sharing!

Peter said...

Hi Amy,
Thank you for your really nice comment which cheered me up this morning (I had rather a difficult week last week).

Glad you got a laugh out of the golf part.

I agree that it is sad to lose the "wild" places. People seem to find the need to put their "stamp" on everything, and even the officially "wild" places often get information signs or warnings about the obvious ("danger sea water... may contain potentially harmful levels of salt"!!).

When I wrote the post I was feeling a bit bad that I had not included more glazing information in it, like I had promised to do, but it just seemed to detract from the walk to the sea, so I am saving the glaze information for next time.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you took us along with you on your walk Peter.
Thanks for sharing your artist's eyes so beautifully.
It brings back happy memories.

Peter said...

Thank you Anonymous,
I'm glad that this lovely area carries happy memories for you.

Armelle said...

Maybe sea water, yes Peter, for your chün, it seems that your are lost in the blue, no news since a long time, I don't give much either. Here it's the desert, since 20 years we have never seen so few tourists, maybe the lack of sun ???
best wishes from Belle-Ile

Linda Fahey said...

Sitting here in California in the dark of a very early morning catching up on some bloggers - so happy I stopped by, Peter. NZ is a wondrous place. I live near/walk on the beach every day - I felt the experience of your words. beautiful. thank you!

Peter said...

Thank you so much for that, Linda, good to hear from you. Hum, "the dark of a very early morning", I suspect that a number of those of us who keep blogs do so either very early, or very late in the day!