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Lake Rotoiti, NZ

Thanks for having us, I hope we weren’t a burden.

Long overdue for a gulp of fresh air, having Donna to stay was the perfect excuse. Forget work when you can. Before the sun came prying and against the stiffening north-west breeze – we were free.

With the city in the rearview and the population dwindling, we wound our way up and over Lewis Pass. A swim in the first freshwater we could find, I refused shoes and ambled down the sharp stone path; an unannounced roadside waterfall would wash the city grit from my wintry skin, cold and alive again.

The intended target was a friend’s house stowed amongst the trees somewhere outside Saint Arnaud, with a pocketful of hand-drawn maps and notes of gate codes and hidden keys, we found it; two levels of paradise surrounded by a verandah, guarded by trees, simple and spacious.

At 2631 feet up I exhaled for the first time in eight months. Happily overwhelmed by the quiet, the rain settled in as though closing the gate behind us. Later that day the power would go out, it seemed to have a direct effect on Elena as she slept soundly for a few hours and into the afternoon. We all busied ourselves with nothing; Donna captured Elena permanently with paint and canvas and I read up on compost.

Back to basics. I could hide out here for a week, a month, maybe six of them or a year, engage in something productive, learn something new, hear thoughts without interruption. The world would be a postcard.

Through the rain the lake was calling for attention. By trails that ran like small creeks, we navigated the peninsula between Kerr Bay and West Bay before dinner. Difficult to tell where the lake ended and the water of the air began, you could go ahead and fall right in.

Squelch. Back to base, damp but rejuvenated. We peeled layers from our skin, making a chinese laundry around the lounge room and the fireplace roared to life.

Although Thanksgiving fell on a Thursday, with each other, fresh salads, veggie parcels and pumpkin pie for company, we’d sit together again on the Friday and appreciate it all. This is all I have, all I need, thanks.

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