Posts Tagged ‘dolphins’

February 22nd – 23rd

April 3, 2010


Monday 22nd  –  Tuesday 23rd February


Dolphins at Hahei

Three or four maybe – a small pod

Just on time, at five thirty, the dolphins

splash in the distance, race surging between the islands

gregarious pack animals, energetic as teenagers.

Please stay with me;

roll leap and play in my mind’s eye forever;

puppies of the sea – spending energy in wanton high leaps

and full-length crashes like breaching whales.

The dolphins are wonderful – I was lucky to see them, as I think they had been there for a while when I finally closed my book and walked down to the beach.  They had been closer in, but I saw them way way out – perhaps as they were leaving the bay.  And I was struck by a sudden fear that I would forget them – that Hahei itself would fade in my mind, and I would never come back, simply because I had forgotten what it was like and (at some level) how absolutely easy it is to leave all the ties that feel so dominatingly real when one is at home. But while I was there it felt completely right and natural: it felt like my place, and, corny though it may sound, like my spiritual home. It’s interesting too that a phrase like that, which sounds so qualified anywhere else, could sound appropriate while there.  And remembering the dolphins stands for remembering the whole experience – they feel like my own daffodils. (Stupid Word – can’t tell what the subject of a sentence is!) And the poem, though it isn’t very good, is a way of holding that time and that sense of possibility. Holding on to it.  Not very far below the surface, too, is that fear of forgetfulness and of aging.

Tuesday 23rd

My day to leave, so I took an early morning walk up the headland, where there is a Maori pa. (I didn’t spot it. Didn’t really know what to look for, then.) There were lots of seagulls and cormorants, and some hidden bird was giving a sawing two-note call from well inside a tree.  As one climbs the inner side of the hill, one can look back at the bay and at the township of Hahei.  It suddenly struck me why I feel so at home there: it is very like Nelson Bay in the fifties, when I was a child.  A combination of the simplicity with the slightly tawdry tourism of caravan parks and beach walks, in a place that is lovely beyond belief. Further up the headland one sees forward out to the open sea, fine and crashing with great waves and rocky cliffs.  A solitary gannet heading eastwards dove headlong into the waves. At the top, wonderfully, I found an American couple doing yoga – they denied this, but she seemed to have just finished the ‘Salute to the Sun’.  Lovely chatty people, they offered to take my photo and explained that they live at Hahei for six months of the year, and in the US, near Chicago, for the rest.  What joy, I think.  They have been doing this for nine years now – since retiring, I guess.

Back along the beach to check out of Tatahi Backpackers (charming – wood-built, with gardens – but expensive, I thought at 80 dollars a night – wondered if I’d been overcharged, actually).  And couldn’t resist a last swim – such perfect water and waves.  someone was sea-swimming, quite far out. Most impressive.  But no morning dolphin were visible – I did look for them.

Few were in swimming , but I had my farewell swim anyway.  A bit chilly so early in the day, but amazingly good – battering waves.  A woman in a bathing cap waved to me – and I belatedly recognised the American from the hill.  Hope she didn’t think I was following her – (but what the hell if she did – I was leaving in half an hour).

and writing this just two days later, it is receding and it is so hard to hold it in my mind as banality seeps and then surges through me.  A treacly tide that immobilizes, and that I can fight with the poetry and the words here.  (but not with photos, which only capture a moment, and seem to be a part of forgetting because they allow only a very specific fragment of memory.) My dolphin poem, rough and ready though it is, is part of that holding process.

I hared back to Auckland through Tairua and over the mountains to get the little bright blue Getz back to Go! rentals  on time – and all worked smoothly despite my perennial fears of running late. (Why do I care so much?) The useful map of Auckland made all the difference.  It’s all about the maps. (Maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud – it ought to be obvious at my age.) But there’s something a little deeper there too, about maps. I hadn’t intended to go through Tairua, but took a wrong turning – another navigation problem. Finally collected from the wilds of the light industrial suburbs by kindly Colin, and restored to the family party going on at Ann’s.

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