For four years, back in the ’70s, our family lived near this remote and beautiful part of West Otago.
Today, on the way back from a day trip to Gore to see a much loved elderly relative, we took the long way home back to Central Otago through some of the gravel roads of my childhood. Past the place where Mum crashed the ute taking us to school; past the creek where my great uncle once ferried shearers across on his back when the bridge was washed out; past the subconsciously familar landscape with all its little nostalgic cues.
Back to where before each winter, our school teacher would give us homework for when we were snowed in; to where as kids our daily commute to school was an hour and ten minutes each way (this made for big days, and I used to take every Wednesday of my first year off to rest); to where I cried one day because They Stopped Showing Star Trek On TV; to where one year the river froze over and the dogs could run across it and my mother’s towels would freeze solid and sometimes break if left on the line overnight.
Of course, while I was wallowing in all this, the kids in the back seat were restless and whiny and wanted to get back home. R. was driving, taking it on faith that I knew where I was going.
And then I realised I was just revisiting the sins of my father on my own kids: another interminable Sunday drive through more boring countryside; busting for a wee; not an ice-cream for miles.
We went straight back to the farm.