Thursday, 10 July 2008

The wrong pictures

Lying diagonally across the bed, feet hanging off one side near the wide open balcony doors. It's 4.10 am, humid and still. On the roof opposite, a seagull day has long begun and their big footed grey chick is croaking and whistling as it strides along the crest of the roof. I listen to the ins and outs of your gentle breath and wish I was still in a dreaming world. My body has left a damp print on the sheets next to you and I am wide awake.

I turn my head upside down over the bed edge to let some air touch my throat, and I catch sight of Mount Cook inverted and glinting in the pale dawn light. July on the calendar. A white incisor tooth biting into an antipodean sky. A different world. 

In my childhood kitchen, there was always a calendar sent from New Zealand. Heat in December and snow covered peaks in July. My friend used to mutter every time she saw it, wondering why they always sent one with the wrong pictures. I told her that they lived upside down there as well, and that their midday was our midnight, but she wasn't at all impressed. Her six year old black and white logic had no time for such foolish concepts.

This calendar came home with me on the lonely journey back on the train from my father's funeral and the clear stark finality of sorting out his home and possessions. There wasn't much to bring away or much that I wanted. Photos, a few letters, an old lighter with lovely swirling engraving. And this year's calendar sent to him last Christmas by his far away brother. 

Having it on my wall above my little desk has reminded me of how huge the world is, of how I still haven't made it into the Southern Hemisphere. It also seems to be telling me something about our own exploring, both out in the world and within.