Yesterday was our autumnal equinox. It is obvious therefore that I can no longer cling to the idea that we still have not used all of our share of summer. That doesn’t stop me resenting the comparatively poor quality of this year’s allocation. We had some really good days. My grievance is that there were far too few of them.
As I recorded last week, in the aftermath of the terrorism in Christchurch, these have been dark days for our country. Most of us are justifiably proud of the leadership displayed by our young prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. We have been groping our way to how best to respond to these unprecedented circumstances. Somehow, this particular morning offered an analogy to what we were experiencing … a very dark dawn with a glimmer of light for the day ahead.
Most cities and towns have held some kind of memorial observance. Sorrow for the loss and support for the survivors has been the main thrust. Mary and I joined our son and daughter-in-law and our grandchildren at the memorial vigil in Wellington. It had been planned to be held in the civic square, but the numbers who indicated their intention to attend caused the civic leaders to switch the venue to the Basin Reserve, our major cricket stadium. Approximately 11,000 Wellingtonians were there. I was proud of our city and the respectful way in which they conducted themselves.
My chosen point for participation at the vigil locked me in for a while when the ceremonies were over. As the crowds moved out slowly, I spotted the reflections in the tuba being carried by a member of Orchestra Wellington which had provided beautiful music.
Later in the week, I was awake earlier than usual for some reason, and enjoyed a splendid rosy dawn from my bedroom window.
Later in the day I heard the heavy sound of a BK117 helicopter circling in the valley below me. I am not sure precisely where it landed but I guess it was on some mission of mercy, perhaps filling in for the similar helicopter normally operated by the Life Flight Trust in Wellington. After a period in which I could hear but not see it, it re-emerged into contrast with the hazy Eastern hills.
Then we had one of those days that just demanded a road trip. From Wellington, that can only mean up SH1 through Otaki or over the hill through Featherston into the Wairarapa. I am most likely to choose the latter if I suspect that the conditions are calm on Lake Wairarapa. They were. How can I not love this area? Those are the Rimutaka ranges in the background and Wellington is on the other side.
I spent the day circumnavigating the lake, pausing at Lake Ferry for the lunch that Mary had kindly packed for me. As the afternoon wore on, and I came up the Western Lake road, I was astonished that despite the overcast that had developed, the lake was still just magical in its stillness.
This week, Wellington was forced to close its central library as an engineering report indicates it needs work to bring it up to standard for earthquake resistance. That reminded me of the church of St Mary of the Angels on Boulcott St in the city. It too needed significant remediation to make it safe. It’s a place I often visit (well, I am a Catholic) for a few moments of meditation. Its architect, Frederick de Jersey Clere may not have been abreast of current seismic standards, but he had a great eye for elegant form.
As I left the church and walked down Willis St, I spotted the atrium of the Majestic Centre. This is the tallest building in Wellington. Though it is on a far grander scale, I can’t say I like it as much as I like the church.
Warm greetings to all my readers