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Posts Tagged ‘joy’

After days of wild stormy winds, yesterday was calm but cool. I ventured out for my first walk in a long time, tired of exercising inside with the blinds down to youtube videos. Coupled with other events, exercising inside had not been doing anything for my mood, and it was time to get out.

As I stepped out into the crisp air, I felt an immediate lift in my spirits. The sky was blue and finally the trees were relatively still. Everything sparkled, cleansed by nature’s storm. I headed off on one of my usual walking routes. The light had changed since my last walk – no longer the low, gorgeous light of winter. Now it was brighter, promising new things to come. It made me smile. Spring had definitely arrived.

I walked past my favourite stand of toi toi* that catches the light so beautifully in the early morning and late evening.

Alas, there was only one stem left, and a broken stem beside it showing how the wind had battered it. All the others had disappeared. I’m hoping it is resilient, though, and will be watching to see if it recovers. It wasn’t the only casualty of the wind. The neighbours’ gorgeous blossom tree next to our driveway was stripped of its blossom. But tiny green leaves were emerging, leaving a feeling of hope.

As I got to the park and playground, I could smell the freshly cut grass. Nothing smells more of spring or summer, does it? There were children playing on the playground, and kicking around balls on the sports field, enjoying the first beautiful day of their school holidays.

I continued my walk – past old folks venturing to the shops, quite a few other walkers and joggers, the occasional dog-walker, grandparents babysitting the grandchildren, and older kids out enjoying their two weeks of freedom.

The whole feeling was one of serenity, perhaps helped by the fact that we had no new community cases of COVID-19, and that it has now been two weeks since any new cases from the Auckland cluster’s outbreak. I took in a deep breath of pure, clean air, and smiled.

* or toe toe, or I may have mistaken pampas grass, an exotic weed, for our native toi toi.

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Look!

I am very lucky to live in a beautiful place. I didn’t really understand this, until we seriously looked at moving to Melbourne (Australia). I spent some time there, talking to job agencies and looking around. The thing that struck me was how ugly it was. This is a bit sacrilegious of me, as New Zealanders seem to love Melbourne. They rave about its restaurants and its shopping and its job opportunities. But I shrug. My sister-in-law who lives there comes to Wellington to shop, and eats out with us and raves about our restaurants, and pays a fortune for houses that would be half the price here. I took off my rose-coloured, Melbourne-wannabe glasses, and I actually looked at it. And concluded that it was ugly. Melbourne is not a city built around its river (a dark brown silty slow ugly river) or its flat, featureless coastline. Most of Melbourne is flat, filled with dull red brick buildings. Houses look out their windows at each other.

In Wellington, we look out our windows at the ocean, at the valleys, at the hills opposite, covered in houses but somehow still green, or the hills in the valleys several suburbs over. Some of us look out at the mountains on the South Island, or down to the Antarctic, others of us look across the Tasman towards Australia and trendy, expensive Melbourne. We look out our windows at living things, at green trees, at flying tui or wood pigeons, or if we’re really lucky, at the occasional orca that finds its way into the harbour. We look out our windows at people enjoying the Oriental Bay beach, and at ferries and planes, bringing people to our windy little city or taking them off to the rest of the world, to spread the world.

When considering a move to Melbourne, I realised how important it was to me to live in an aesthetically pleasing landscape. It wasn’t the deciding factor, but it made me appreciate life here. It opened my eyes, and made me understand that I gain a great deal from living in a beautiful place, and that without it, my life would be diminished.

However low I feel, whatever I might have faced that day, I can look at the play of the light on the harbour, the rush of the clouds racing by, white against the blue blue sky, the red bloom of the pohutakawa trees, and I feel joy. The harbour is different all the time – calm and beautiful and balmy and blue, wintry with cool green waves tipped with icy white foam, or wild and wanton and destructive, the waves splashing over the railway tracks and across my windscreen as I drive along the motorway. I love the storms as much as the calm. I love the invigoration wrought by these changing scenes, the energy required to fight against the wind, the effort and decision needed to live here.

I know how lucky I am. A simple drive home from a Christmas-shopping expedition to a mall, when I catch sight of green Matiu Island sitting in the middle of the blue sea, or a detour via my favourite coffee shop on my way into town for a meeting, when I round the hill and the harbour and city opens up before me – these sights flood me with always unexpected joy.

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