Schools are back after the long summer break. So long that I’ve become accustomed to holiday traffic patterns and, yesterday, foolishly ventured out in my car before nine o’clock. Big mistake!
Not only are there multiple schools in my area — all with car-driving parents disgorging their offspring — but now the holidays are over, more people are also driving to work.
8.15 am: traffic chaos.
I’m breaking the first rule of good writing; meandering around my actual subject with the back-story. I apologise. Think of it as the literary equivalent of my journey yesterday.
So, cutting to the chase.
I gave up sitting in traffic and went to the beach. Because I could. Because my deadlines were self-imposed and flexible. Because the route to the beach was quite probably the only one not gridlocked. And because fresh air, quiet and the presence of water are infinitely soothing.
Sad isn’t it. The weather is warm, the ocean welcoming. Yet so many people are indoors, working the jobs that allow them to (just about) afford to live in a city sandwiched between two beautiful harbours. Harbours they hardly get to enjoy because they’re indoors, working the jobs that ….
I’m not gloating; I’m sad. And angry. Auckland’s growth is at the expense of other regions of New Zealand. While our government changes laws to allow large-scale housing developments on greenfield sites around this city, small towns are struggling to survive. And Auckland becomes a much less livable, much less likable place. I think it’s called lose-lose.
This is the bit where I try to tie together grumpy words with peaceful images.
Bunny tails (Lagurus ovatus) grow prolifically around much of New Zealand’s coastline. They are pretty to look at, and wonderfully soft to touch. But they are an environmental weed, dominating and altering the habitat of other species.
It’s easy to walk along the foreshore and enjoy the masses of cottony white heads. Easy to become accustomed to their presence. And because they exist and can be seen, it is easy to focus on their attractions and ignore the value of the species that have been crowded out — the things we can’t see.
But if we don’t look –consciously, and with consideration of the bigger picture –all too soon, it will be too late. We will have lost forever what we once valued.
Maybe our politicians should take some time to walk on the beach.
Nothing makes me quite so aware of time passing as looking at old photos; especially photos of my child. Is it really almost 18 years since I give birth to a tiny, skinny boy with a shock of red hair? Has 17 years truly passed since we first sat him on his dad’s motorbike?
The answers of course are “yes, and “yes”.
The boy-child will be 18 in a few weeks. He is to all intents and purposes an adult. He has a job he loves, owns a car he bought with his own savings (NOT a motorbike — he never really got bike-fever thankfully), and is proving to be a level-headed, generous, compassionate and independent human being.
In the Great Clean-Out that is part of the preparation for selling our house, I’ve found boxes and boxes of the boy-child’s stuff; toys, books, games, keepsakes. And what I’ve noticed is that those objects which hold the strongest memories for me are not the most recent acquisitions, but those from the very beginning of our life as a family, when time stretched in ways we’d never imagined, and our child’s age was measured in days and weeks, rather than years.
How can it be that I can recall every hour of his first few days, and yet 18 years have flown by?
This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge.