Not long after I first took up hunting I ventured out on my own one weekend to a spot called Cannonball Flats. It was named for the round boulders that covered the river flats, rough to walk over but fast to warm up when the sun hit them. A perfect place to look for a deer in spring, when they might stay out on the clearings into daylight, feeding on the new grass. Only, it wasn’t spring. It was early winter and the flats had stayed frozen all day.
Edited version originally published in Rod & Rifle magazine.
The bush around me was quiet. Peering down the game trail into the dusk I knew I wouldn’t see anything. By the river I sat to watch the light fade. I laid back in the gloom of the bush edge and looked up at beech leaves falling silently like snowflakes. A grey robin joined me. I had seen them throughout the day, until I had the feeling it was the same bird each time. The sky purpled and then darkened as I glassed the flats. Over the valley the moon rose, nearly full.
I sighed, standing on aching knees, cold now from sitting in damp clothes, frustrated at the last three days. It was too early for roaring in the Kiwi Burn. The blood rushed to my feet and I was momentarily light-headed. As I walked back to the hut the feeling returned to my legs and the moon illuminated the tussock as if by streetlight. In the morning we would walk out. We were going to Fiordland next.
A wedding had been the reason to return, its timing at the end of March the deciding factor. For two years overseas I had missed the bush. An old friend from home was keen to hunt the South Island with me while I was back. Then, shortly before leaving Cairo, a serendipitous phone call; we were offered a wapiti block after another party pulled out.
So I’ve received a lot of nice messages lately from friends wanting to know that things are ok. They are, mostly, aside from little things like not having got paid in nearly two months. Thanks for the concern guys. Read the rest of this entry »
I had plenty of time to reflect on things on the flight back. The plane was two thirds empty, probably an accurate reflection on the current state of tourism in Egypt. I read a National Geographic article speculating that genetics might explain why some people are compelled to seek out distant horizons. I cogitated on my restless genes as the golden light of a beatific sunset suffused the cabin.
A year ago I was also leaving England in a haze of emotion intensified by a hangover. The anticipation of the unknown was replaced this time by weariness and wariness.
I have been keeping busy with work and Arabic class at the moment, not leaving much time for extra writing. However I have a few stories coming up for publication which I’ll post links to here as they go up.
For now a couple more pics from the recent protests.
The boys were showing off as they wove through traffic on their bicycles. As they pulled up next to me I caught their attention by raising my camera, as if to say “hey, do that again.” They happily obliged and rode in front of me holding hands and waving.
Ahead the traffic slowed but the boys didn’t notice. Too late they split apart, one boy weaving between two cars, the other trying to slow his bike by dragging his feet. He wobbled as he approached the slowing traffic and then, as he passed it, slipped. His bike and his leg went under a battered white hatchback. Its back wheel unceremoniously crumpled them both with a thud. The boy yelled and the car stopped. A man got out yelling. The boy hobbled up onto on leg and started yelling back. A crowd of men quickly gathered, all yelling.
My driver quickly pulled a U-turn and drove away, afraid of me being inculpated. I don’t know what happened to the boy or the driver.
I replied the scene in a loop in my mind for days afterwards.
Uploaded a few more photos recently. More TK