Wednesday, September 30, 2009
An inspiring country
Holidays are increasingly becoming less about relaxation and having ‘free’ time as life goes on. While I still occasionally catch myself putting chores off until the holidays (clearing out all the junk out from the back of the garage, etc) when the holidays come they often tend to be more hectic than any other time. When I was younger I used to think taking a holiday would be great for writing. I had this whole fantasy about going to a small cottage near the beach somewhere and doing nothing but sleep, write, read, write, go for walks on the beach and then write some more. This dream holiday has never happened. While I fairly often have gone on holidays that have by no means been lacking in ‘walking along the beach’ department, my trips tend to result in the same or reduced amounts of sleeping, writing and reading as regular days at home. This shouldn’t really be a cause for complaint (except where the reduced amounts of sleeping are due to hyperactive toddlers who think they should go to bed later, have shorter naps and still bounce up awake early every morning of the holiday). Holidays are fun and often mean a chance to see places, people and do things you otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to. My last five days in Tauranga were an absolutely lovely orgy of eating delicious, unhealthy foods, seeing family and having lots of busy, active fun. I learnt valuable life lessons like the volume of noise and chaos caused by pre-schoolers increases exponentially for every additional kid. Three small boys in one any area is basically like witnessing a very loud natural disaster taking place. While I have returned from the holiday weary and exhausted (and with a lot of unpacking/laundry to do), I have also returned full to the brim with writery enthusiasm and new stories I’m eager to write. I suspect that a change of scenery is always good for anyone to get the sparks of creative inspiration flying but I have to say that the lengthy road trip up and down the North Island is particularly inspiring. The foreboding desolation of the Desert Road at twilight; the multitude of small towns with the giant gumboots and vegetable idols; the stunning beauty of the tree lined coasts; towering aged forests; the first glimpse of the majestic Lake Taupo as it comes into view; and the distinctive sulphurous aroma of Rotorua; they are all powerful catalysts for conjuring up images and stories. We drove up at night but had a more languid drive back during the day with many stops along the way. One of the benefits of travelling with a small boy was that he wanted to stop and explore at every possible opportunity and we discovered many beautiful scraps of wilderness in rest areas and lookouts just off the main road. It still amazes me that in New Zealand you only have to take a few steps off the State Highway and you’re surrounded by nature as though you’ve walked into a different world. The vast range in backdrops that you travel through in one day is mindblowing – there’s such an array of wildly different landscapes; each stunning in its own distinctive way but the whole countryside seems unified with a raw, untamed beauty. We may have stuck towns, roads and farms through the middle of nature but nature is still looming in the background, watching the alternations we’ve made but not yet overwhelmed by them. It would be impossible to observe so many dramatic and inspiring sights and not have a wealth of stories spring to life in your mind. Now I just have to make time to write them all.