Cows vs tigers


A whole new year, minus a week. Now that it’s here I find myself impatient to begin, to move through this pleasant, lazy, between-the-years hiatus and on to the next stage of relocating, resettling, reacclimatising, and absorbing the reverse culture shock of the big, bad, beautiful city.

We begin the process of dismantling the house, tackling the still freshly-remembered process of sorting, chucking and boxing: vastly easier, of course, than this time a year ago, though still far from swift or simple. Once again the place takes on the air of a house in transition; always only lightly inhabited, this blank, comfortable, soulless house prepares to slough us off for good. Our living spaces descend immediately into chaos: we step over and around half-filled boxes and toppling piles, rag bags of holey clothing and collections of things to return, in keeping with the great circle of life, to Wanaka Wastebusters.

We go about extracting ourselves with remarkably little regret; we’re all in our own ways embracing the inevitable return, counting down to the things we’ve missed: cricket club, own bed, Scalextric, beaches, Fruitworld.

It helps that the weather has been consistently foul since before Christmas – variously wet, windy and cold, and mostly all three – and that Hawea is suddenly issued with a boil-water advisory due to the detection of E. coli in the water supply (they blame the rain and the cows: shitty weather, literally), so that we’re compelled to fiddle about with pots and jugs and drink bottles until further notice, like a fun-free camping trip.

So yes, we look forward to subtropical temperatures and first-world infrastructure, social rehabilitation and a lower cholesterol intake. I try not to think about the small, dark bedrooms, the single bathroom, the noisy wooden floors, the lack of pantry and airing cupboard. I think instead about newfound resilience, distilled priorities, pared-back needs. I decline to dwell on the significant unknowns: income levels and sources, the quantity and unwieldiness of the objects in the new juggling act, the amount of time, energy and headspace the MCW course will demand of me. Instead, I prepare to embrace another tiger, which, no matter how frisky and nippy it turns out to be, will at least have the appeal of novelty.

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