Bucketing Down

It’s raining cats and dogs. It’s bucketing down. It’s coming down in sheets. This could be because it’s typical for Auckland to reach humidity in the 90’s before early summer storms sweep away the resplendent pohutukawa flowers; cutting off the New Zealand Christmas tree at its knees. It could be caused by global warming, after all six US states were stormed by a deadly series of tornadoes this week. Or it could be some weird karma causing the extreme weather to coincide with the lifting of a border around Auckland. One that’s held us tight for over 100 days while we’ve enjoyed socially distanced summer picnics and packed our city beaches like sardines in a can.

The Automobile Association is warning of out of practice drivers on busy outbound highways. The immunologists are warning us about the Omicron variant and how Aucklanders will unwittingly sprinkle the virus across the country. Even GP’s are telling us we’ll get hit with colds and flu because our bodies have forgotten how to grow an army of internal soldiers to bolster our immunity before gather in packs again. We’re looking forward to travelling again, and for just a wee while, to enjoy being in places that don’t yet have the virus in the community.

The rest of New Zealand, our team of 5 million, are about to find out what it’s been like to hold the line.

Christmas usually involves an intense period of build-up. A series of end of year lasts; last school day, the office break-up, the end of organised clubs and events for the year. But the Covid Grinch has stolen the season. Our children will farewell their teachers online. A recurring pattern in their relationships this year. There’s no end of year concerts. There’s no unmasked play. But slowly we’re returning to a new normal under the traffic light system. Cases are dropping, surprising even the staunchest of Covid modellers, and we’re quietly optimistic that our vaccine efforts have done the job. Boosters are around the corner, as are vaccines for our children. Do we dare draw in a breath of hope?

We fly into a paradise this week. A landscape so spectacular that it forms a backdrop to Hollywood cinematic magic. A corner of our land where sea lion bulls charge the beaches in an ungainly yet powerful fashion, where fur seals slumber like clumps of seaweed on the foreshore, and the world’s rarest penguin nest at dusk. A land that Delta hasn’t reached and the forecast is no-longer for rain.

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