An off road power wheel chair on the beach. What freedom. Not only for myself but for muy Emily. To drive down to the South Coast. Palliser Bay. Exploring. As we drove I proclaimed we would experience superb light. And did. A clear blue sky with amazing white serpent like clouds. Aotearoa is the Land of the Long White Cloud. My homeland. My Parent’s, Grand Parent’s, Great Grand Parent’s homeland. My children’s Great, Great Grand Parent’s homeland.
We arrived at the beach mid afternoon with the light starting to turn a golden glow. I was dressed for winter with my brown Mephisto hiking boots, Icebreaker pure wool leggings, a Patagonia fleece jacket hidden beneath a very strong wind resistant, by Gun and Whip Makers to the Queen, shooting jacket of oilskin and leather which I bought in London back in the late 80′s, Toasty. Possum fur fingerless gloves, a present from my daughter to protect my hands and a long scarf bought at Heathrow Airport to protect my neck. I love the scarf, it looks exactly like an Arab head covering. Cosy in the winter ocean wind. Seagulls rose. Large pools of swamp water reflected the crystal blue sky. Native grasses swayed in the breeze. Barbed wire fences separated paddocks and sky. The surf was sort of flat with small wind whipped spray to keep it fascinating. South West the seaward Kaikoura Ranges of the South Island faintly visible in a distant haze. Cars, vans and utility vehicles parked along the beach and on the approach road. Fishing gear outlined against the sky. The tide was on the turn. I guess the fish were feeding off food pouring from the mouth of Lake Onoke as it enters the ocean. A good turning tide attracts serious fishermen. We were not there for the fishing. We carried cameras. Leicas. M9′s my Digilux 2 along with my iPhone connected to my wheelchair. An app on the iPhone is my favourite image snapping device today as all I have to do and can do is aim my wheel chair and press the button. 645Pro. Technology fascinates me. A large segment of my Geminian character. I was out of the car, into my chair, power on, I took off along the rough track heading east along the coast, parallel to the surf toward high rising bluffs turning gold in the late afternoon sun. My friend Julian and muy lover Emily followed slowly on foot. Possibly bemused by my sense of freedom. At the rate of knots I moved away. I was certainly aggressive in my desire to get release from any sense of disability. I wanted to be in my own space out in nature, alone. Freedom is a state of mind. Happiness is embracing what I love. A sense of solitude. At oneness. With nature.
The trail along the beach was not without obstacles and it was a learning curve for me to negotiate the powerful chair over rough ground, through mud and patches of water from the recent storms. Loose sand drifts soft and tricky. The chair has power. Each large off road wheel driven by a separate motor. The tread a series of raised square knobs. I could not help smiling. A remote coast, fresh ocean air, a setting sun. Dramatic steep Bluffs before me. Rising sharply from the edge of the trail. Some 200 feet high topped with pastures of lush green grass and grazing stock. I tried fast turns, slow turns, motoring backwards. I tried going down steep slopes to see how it would reverse out in an emergency. It all worked beyond my expectations. The control lever held by my weak right hand. And all the while taking photographs of the panorama with my weak left hand. I had left my companions far behind me and I could have kept going forever. What fascinated me was to my left up on the cliff, two crosses like you see all over Aotearoa. Crosses, commemorations, memorials where a death or deaths have taken place. We’re these fishermen who drowned fishing, swept to sea or local farmers who died in a quad bike accident or a couple of sailors who died while sailing along the coast. The weather comes in from the South. Straight in and uninterrupted from Antarctica. Lost at sea? I will possibly never know. I sat and waited for muy Emily and friend Julian. Clear sky with a single solitary large, very large serpent shaped cloud. A farmer on a quad bike rode the high fence line . We waved to each other but I couldn’t quite get my camera set up before he rode off disappearing over the skyline. His outline back lit looked dramatic against the skyline. I motored a full hour before stopping before turning back. Amazing. Nature, my first love for all of my life. As a child I roamed free and loved it. As I travelled around the world I explored my environment. The Australian Outback. Europe and the American West. Muy Emily is a nature lover who has enjoyed rural homes and set up an English language school in the local Wairarapa country side. Zoology and Botany are two of her loves. At times I feel muy Emily is my intellectual and scholarly muse. Her Cambridge education balances my lack of education beyond High School. It took me, has taken a long time to accept and continues to challenge me that I have a very healthy mind of my own. Writing is a love of mine. My mind ever active. Overly so.
The Hotel at Lake Ferry is a great local hangout. Overlooking Lake Onoke across to the western ranges. Glorious. I can access the Hotel easily. We sat in the dying sunset and ate and talked and drank cold dark beer. The adventure of the day fresh in my mind. The 30 minute drive home was accompanied by Venus high above the western ranges. A great full stop to a great day of outdoor adventure. Gratitude.