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.