It is dark outside, nearing 9 o’clock in the evening. It’s the kind of dark you experience only in the in the winter, where twilight doesn’t linger, but instead soon after the sun sets the light is quickly swallowed. The rain, which has pelted my window for the last several hours, has dissipated. We were warned about the rain this morning, if you’re into wanting to predict this sort of thing.
This morning I walked to the hospital with my normal light jacket, nary an umbrella in my backpack. I knew I’d be safe for most of the day. As I did yesterday, I climbed the stairs to the 8th floor this morning, only today I wanted to see how long it takes (because it seemed like hours yesterday). Two minutes and five seconds. I was just a little less winded today compared with yesterday. Soon I’ll be sprinting up the 9 flights of stairs. Then, I’ll fly.
After work, I walked through town to see about a new phone plan. This week I had my phone ‘unlocked’ so I can use a local carrier, this in an attempt to have better communication with my family back home (I was previously relying on wifi hotspots). This is a great town for these types of errands.
There are few chain stores, to speak of, on the street, which is populated mostly by individual businesses. There are three mobile phone carrier stores (the three main ones here are are TeleCom, 2 Degrees, and VodaFone) and an electronics stores, but otherwise it’s coffee stores, restaurants , shoe stores, and a surprising number of used clothing stores. People descend upon George Street beginning in the afternoon. If the weather is nice, many make their way in the early evening to the Octagon, which is at the end of George Street. In the middle of the Octagon, George Street changes its name to Princess Street. The streets here do that a lot, change names for seemingly no reason. I’m sure at one time there was a reason, but it’s lost now, and it’s just something you need to get used to. I’m not used to it, and when I’m trying to find someplace new it’s confusing because a single street can change names several times before you realize you’re going the wrong way.
This is my last weekend ‘off’ for awhile, and since it was Friday afternoon, I was determined to get some fishing in. I looked at the skies at 4 o’clock, and despite a predominance of the the color gray, and a forecast of rain, I drove out the ocean to fish. I suppose if you stopped and thought about fishing, a realization might dawn upon you this is an illogical pursuit. Just 100 feet from the door of my apartment is a perfectly good fish store, with a wide variety of already caught, cleaned and filleted fish. I could buy a whole meal of fish for $10 dollars. Instead, I’ll spend several times that amount on fishing gear, drive thirty minutes out the ocean, and endure whatever mother nature throws my way. Today, mother nature threw rain, 25mph winds, and 7 degrees C (that’s 45 degrees F, for the US folks). Oh, and I didn’t catch anything. I didn’t really give myself a fair chance to catch anything ( a ‘real’ fisherman would have stayed out there for hours, or at least until they had caught something- besides a cold), because I had walked about 1/2 mile along a jetty, and while fishing I was able to monitor the approaching heavy rain. When I saw a big downpour was perhaps 20 minutes away, I packed up my gear, and headed back into the winds for the long walk to the car. Just as I got back to the car, it really started to rain buckets. Then I drove home, stopping at the store to pick up some soup, and in my cosy little apartment had toast and very warm minestrone soup. I also picked up a bottle of Te Mata Awatea, a Hawke’s Bay (Nz) cabernet/merlot blend. Nothing screams for a bottle of nice red wine like a stormy winter evening. Except maybe a clear spring day. Or a warm summer night. Or a crisp autumn morning. It was excellent.
Two other things I noticed this week. First, the cry of the New Zealand seagull is quite distinct, and very different from the seagulls we have in California. Here they sound almost like green parrots when they fly in flocks. I’ve traveled to Alaska and seen many seagulls there, and they sounded the same as the California seagulls. I hadn’t expected there to be such a difference here, and when I hear them (which is every day), I’m always struck anew. The second thing I’ve really appreciated is how patient people are here. In town we cross many streets, with streetlights, crosswalks….all the normal things you would expect. But I am continually amazed to watch people press the walk button for crossing the street, and then wait for the light to turn green, even when there are no cars to be seen on the road. I have watched many, many people wait for over a minute, with not a single car passing, until the light turns green. It’s nice.
I’m hoping the weather is better tomorrow (the forecast said snow is possible, but what do they know?), so I can fish some more…..