Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Passing Cows - a wee story the end

“Well it is a hatch.” I suggest.
We open the boot and fold down the back seats. We climb in either side of the picnic basket.
It is cramped and the car roof is low. Propped up on one elbow we pass the rolls and the butter and the meat and the salad between us. Simon squishes his roll together, encasing the ingredients. He looks up. “The farmer had better not come past and see us now.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Passing Cows - a wee story part three

The cows sway in time to their hooves as they amble to the side of the road.
We drive carefully down the arrow of road re-emerging in front of us. The cows only give us a passing glance. They are more interested in the grass on the verge.
A human head pops up amongst the black and white bumpy back bones. The farmer is astride his quad bike and riding towards us. He takes one hand off the handlebars and is waving at us.
Simon drops the window as we drive up abreast of him. The farmer leans across to the open window.
“Christ mate. Slow down. Do you know how much damage one of these could do to your car?“ He shakes his head and looks back to the cows.
The farmer stands up on his bike. He guns it towards the back of the herd.
Simon stabs the button and window slides up again.
We creep forward much slower now.
“How are you supposed to know how fast to pass cows?” Simon mutters.
I shrug. “The sign didn’t say.”
“Stupid cows.” He grumbles.
The cows are thinning out and walking faster. Around another corner we are alone and begin to pick up speed.
“You wouldn’t believe we were so close to an international airport would you?” I say.
“In some cities we’d still be in the suburbs, not passing cows.”
The wipers sweep up the collection of rain polka dots on the windscreen, smearing them in arcs.
“Yeah. Do you remember that two hour bus ride in London to get to Heathrow?
There was that guy who wanted to know what we were laughing about?” Simon asks.
I laugh “Do you think he knows how fast to drive through cows?’
On our right arrives the yellow signpost pointing to the reserve and our destination. We turn onto the rocky patch of scrubby cut grass, half surrounded by a remnant of native bush. It is hard to decide whether to be pleased this piece has been saved or sad it is the only piece in the area remaining amongst the farmland.
We get out of the car into the rain. It is falling more steadily.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Passing Cows - a wee story part two

Simon indicates and we turn onto a narrow sealed road heading into the hills. The first drops of rain burst on the windscreen. I look up at the sky. “I’m not sure the picnic is going to work.”
Simon wrinkles his nose. “Wonder if that farmer is pleased? People always say, the farmers will be pleased when it rains.”
The hills press in towards the road, squeezing it between the folds of the land. They are a lush green. Maybe the rain here is not so surprising. The colour in the long grass and the trees is even more brilliant against the blackboard sky. We drive around the end of one hill and head down into a gully. The ground on either side of the road starts to flatten out.
On the side of the road is a yellow, diamond, warning sign with the silhouette of a cow. There are no cows to be seen. The road is lined with old silver birches and willows beside wire and worn wood fences. Their leaves are hanging like lace curtains for the privacy of the farmland against the city traffic. We turn another corner.
The curtains are gone.
There are cows all over the road.
Simon rams the brake pedal hard.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Passing Cows - a wee story part one

A scruffy ute suddenly pulls out from gravel driveway. Simon hits the brakes.
It speeds up very slowly in front of us.
There is no one behind us, the road is an empty black ribbon under the blue sky.
“Why do they do that? I mutter. “He could’ve waited until we went past. It wouldn’t have made any difference to him.”
“He’ll probably turn off again soon, just to really piss us off.” Adds Simon
“He’s slowing down.” I sigh and we slow again too.
The farmer does not indicate, but the ute is drifting to the left and then turns onto another gravel road. We both grimace in annoyance. What else can you do?
The sky changes to thunder grey, the closer we get to the foothills. The ragged Southern Alps we had been staring at for the last thirty minutes, disappear behind dark streaks of heavy rain.
Our home in the city is probably still in the brilliant sunshine that demanded we go out and enjoy it.

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.