One last visit.
I have a picture of myself at 3 or 4 years old, gingham dress with the big white collar and a bow in my hair, sitting in the stern of my Grandfather’s dinghy about here, waving at Grandpa on the shore. It must have been him. The picture is the square format of his Rollei and no-one else could drive that. He was Arnold.
Those times must have set a scene in my psyche like that of the homing pigeon and this little stretch of Lake Rotorua, north of the Waiteti Stream and south of the Awahou will ever draw me back. I knew it like the back of my hand; we knew where every log sat silently about 10cm below the waterline, crocs waiting for the unsuspecting speeding boat; we knew the claybanks where you could feel the koura holes and poke a stick, or a toe if you were brave, to entice out participants in the evening meal; where the eels lived in the spaces under the great red pads of willow roots and we knew every small beach and bay where a dinghy could land and play host to the imagination of youthful explorers. Every bit of flotsam and jetsam was to be investigated and reimagined into some essential play.
I surprised myself when I visited the other morning, I didn’t expect to feel that sense of home so strongly.
One of the greatest pleasures that morning was to stand and observe the swathes of sand and regeneration of wetland cover that encouraged a multitude of birdlife, settled and safe in the silent mists. You see, for many years, at the slightest sign of buildup of silt and lakeweed at the stream mouth, the growling and puffing diggers would come and rearrange the environment to suit someone’s notion of tidy and clean. Finally we have woken up to the damage the lake has suffered from the destruction of the protective wetlands that used to surround it, their filtering and nurturing role to water and birds alike has been revalued and recognised again.
I’m sure there are people in the surrounding properties that feel their investment has been devalued by the buildup of sand and lakeweed and weeds and grasses, but oh! How wonderful it was to feel the peace of that place now.
My heart’s place.