The Arahura was running late this morning. Someone left the lights on and they had to push start it. But we got underway at about 7:00, only half an hour late, and with Cook Strait absolutely dead flat the captain had managed to make up almost all of the lost time by the time we got to Wellington.
Bridget and Scott travelled with us as far as Wellington. We settled into a group of seats conveniently near the play area but Noah saw the stairs, and knew they must lead to somewhere and that the somewhere was no doubt pretty awesome. "Stairs, stairs" he repeated until I carried him up them. So he and I stood alone in the fresh Southerly and took in all the spectacular excellence (Truck! Water! Birdie! Boat!) until the ship began to move and the scene became the most astonishing thing he had seen in his life. His little head rested on mine, cheek to cheek, my eyes looking out beside his and for a few minutes I saw as he was seeing. This apparently solid enormity on which we stood was gliding away from the trucks and boats and birdies. Amazing! Jesus told us to become like little children, by which he meant, I think, doing what Noah taught me to do this morning: let go of all accustomed ways of seeing things and interpreting them in order that we might see them as they actually are. Was it us moving, or was it the land? Good question, Mr. Einstein.
It was a busy trip. Then, at Wellington, Clemency and I drove off alone into a drizzly Horowhenua. We crawled along the clogged two lane road which is the main egress from our capital city til we cruised ever faster over the hills and through the valleys. I had forgotten how pretty Hunterville is, and Taihape. We stopped at a rural cafe somewhere and then Clemency did a little shopping in Taupo while I sweltered. Jeans? A shirt AND a T shirt? What was I thinking? A few years in Dunedin and we had forgotten just how much warmer is the climate in the North of the country. We took the shortcut across the Hauraki Plains, avoiding Hamilton, picked up Catherine from Central Auckland and arrived here in Orewa just before 9; about 15 hours after we left last night's stopping place.
We've driven all these roads before but apart from the section through the Waikato none of it is so redolent with memory as yesterday's drive up the South Island. But although it might not always look like Otago, it does look like home. Driving slowly, pulling over sometimes to allow the accumulated queue of traffic behind us to overtake, stopping to look at craft shops or to buy coffee, it all looked new, fresh, green and indescribably beautiful. To see it all again and see it as if for the first time. This was Noah's gift to me' a gift which lasted far after I had reluctantly waved him goodbye; a gift which transformed my whole day.