This is what I want


This photo is not only one of the pics on my intro blog page –
so this is a good moment to say what it’s doing there – and the view it shows is also what I am looking at right now as I type this post. It’s the bay below the cottage I have rented for the second year running on Waiheke Island, out in the Hauraki Gulf, off Auckland, New Zealand.

I don’t know what it is about moving water but for me the connection, the unwavering pull of its attraction, runs very deep. Earlier this week I went off the island for the day (hair cut, lunch with friends, a visit to the cemetery) and when I got back on the ferry I stood in the stern for most of the journey to watch the spray from the super-cat engine surge and leap behind us in great powerful swathes of water. And suddenly lines from an old song came unbidden to my mind, and I had to laugh because they were so inappropriate in one way and so utterly right in another.

“This is what I want
This is what I long for…”

And in case you don’t know, that’s Emile De Becque, in ‘South Pacific’, starting to sing about his love for Nellie Forbush – which you could argue has nothing to do with the ferry to Waiheke but clearly my heart and memory thought otherwise.

I know that anyone who gets something they long for, even if they have it for only a short time, is astonishingly fortunate. And I do long for this place – for Waiheke Island specifically but for New Zealand in general, too – for days as clear as mountain water, for walking in the hills every morning and swimming in the bay every evening, for birds calling and cicadas buzzing. I suspect that this yearning is connected to memories of lives unlived and of roads not taken when I grew up here so it’s at least partly coloured by (largely inaccurate) bouts of nostalgia – but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. So whatever the cause, I am presently celebrating my present extraordinary good fortune and if a little voice starts telling me to be careful what I wish for, I plan to ignore it.

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