Staying Alert

We’re on alert. And this time I’m not talking about the virus or any of its variants.

Over the last month we’ve followed compliantly into a mini lockdown. One of the more unusual birthdays I’ll experience. And now Aucklanders are in the midst of a long week of caution, to wait out what our Director of Public Health describes as a long tail of infection. Last week a 21-year-old student went to the gym, while waiting for test results to find out why he was feeling unwell.

Perhaps we have reason to be a cautious and compliant nation. We live on two islands, a mere sliver. One island perfectly bisected like a biology experiment, split by a tectonic fault line running through it lengthways. The other island teasingly cut across a corner, with the potential to take out our capital city in a single quake. Somewhat ironically, Covid 19 restrictions forced the cancellation this month of the Art Deco festival in Napier. The reason for the Art Deco? The city was rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in the summer of 1931, at the height of the Art Deco architectural period.

And today, for the second time in a week, our phones sounded with an alert, a constant droning buzz, warning those living near the coast to stay away from the water. Most New Zealanders live pretty near the water. In fact, Auckland is built on a narrow isthmus that sits between two harbours. Our 90-year-old neighbour down the hill has just evacuated. Covid restrictions have been overridden by the threat of a tsunami.

The rest of the nation haven’t really been locked down and it’s been difficult for them to see the threat at the door, when most days a new arrival at the Auckland gateway brings the virus into the country. We feel like we’ve done the rest of the country proud in our quarantine effort. It’s been return to hunkering down and allowing chaos to preside while our children embrace a new and creative way of learning. Our highlights have been Sophie’s ability to recall her 6 times table like an old fashioned rote learner, Ruby’s experiments with I-Movie and her mini film featuring her teacher being killed by lego dolphins on holiday, and the discovery of a new Irish gin. But on the balance of it, a civil defence emergency puts some perspective on the week of home-schooling.

Today was different. We were hoping for a lifting of the lockdown and were excited about a swim at beach. Instead the air feels eerily still but the tide, just about reaching its peak, is visibly rolling in and out in gentle sets. It’s a beautiful day and incredibly enticing. But we’ll stay away from the shore for now because we’re compliant. Because we’re on alert.

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