I’m away from the Internet again for a little while and have been too disorganised to schedule occasional photos for posting during the next couple of weeks. Sorry. Normal service will resume after that.
Aotearoa's feeling the influence of a tropical depression at the moment, and for the last couple of days thunderstorms have been common over much of the country. I drove home this evening still feeling slightly queasy after having had to pay for a new CV joint and Warrant of Fitness for the car, but the sight of immense thunderclouds over the Ruahine Range and the head of the Pohangina took my mind off mere financial woes.
My fascination with clouds and oceans, and particularly the two together, seems inexhaustible. The ferry crossing between the North and South Islands of Aotearoa can be boring, but generally only if it’s a fine, sunny day (a photographer’s nightmare). This time we encountered the marvellous combination of a near calm sea and an almost elegiac sky — the kind that hints at the dawn of time, or maybe its end.
This photo looks south soon after the Monte Stello left Queen Charlotte Sound and entered Cook Strait; the sea’s still swirling with rips and currents at this point. For a vivid account of this ferry crossing on the sister ship Santa Regina, I strongly recommend reading Tony Bridge’s post, Stories from a tin can.
Michael Vink is just 18 years old, yet he turned in an inspired performance at the national cycling road race championships a few weeks ago. Here, he and one other rider lead the peloton by over two and a half minutes. He stayed out in front for nine of the twelve laps despite riding a borrowed bike for the first three laps and losing a minute — and his momentum — after a puncture with three laps to go. The peloton finally caught him only on the last lap. Earlier in the race we’d watched as he led the way up the steep hill climb, apparently relaxed and hardly puffing while the one other rider with him, although grimly staying close, clearly felt the effort.
I panned this photo to help convey the sense of speed. It’s a well known trick, but effective nevertheless.
Dawn on the hills to the southwest of Wanaka township suggested a grey, dull day ahead. But shortly after six o’clock the sun slipped between the horizon and the blanket of low cloud and grazed the tussock and rock with a long streak of magnificent light. Soon after, it disappeared.
Walk past a paddock of steers and they'll come trotting over to check you out. It's as if they have no idea of the concept of a human being. Curiosity and trepidation compete in their small brains — move suddenly and they'll fling themselves away, only to turn and trot back. I can't help thinking they're not the sharpest knives in the drawer.
Photographed a few years ago, along No. 3 Line, Pohangina valley.
Burning seems to be a national pastime in India — well, at least where I travelled — although perhaps it's more aptly described as smouldering: usually more smoke than heat. Often the purpose of these fires seems to be not just to keep warm but to dispose of rubbish (as far as I could tell, cardboard, plastic and dried dung formed the main fuel for the small fires I saw), but perhaps their most important function, recognised or not, is as focal points around which to gather. That’s the manager of my guest house on the left with the big grin; the three with uncovered heads I believe are family, and I don’t know who the two grim guys are — possibly behind-the-scenes staff. Mid January, 2007.
Posting will ease off for the next couple of weeks while I attend to other matters. However, I’ll schedule a few photos (maybe a couple a week), so if you don’t get automatic notification of a new photo from your feed aggregator, do check back from time to time.
As New Year's day stretched out into afternoon, cloud gathered and the wind strengthened. At Himatangi beach the crowds still hadn't dispersed, although most people had retreated to the shelter of their cars. A few tried new body boards in the grey, churning surf; a wind cart raced back and forth; sunlight scurried in patches along the beach. In the absence of cars and people, the beach seemed prehistoric.
On New Year's day we sat in the sun, relaxed, talked, wondered what the new year would bring. Someone had brought a little pot of bubble-making liquid and it proved popular, several people trying to see how large a bubble could be blown, or simply filling the air with the iridescent spheres.