Archive for May 19th, 2007

Olives and burglary

I live here in a perpetual state of conflicting desires. The crux of the issue is this. Missing home so badly my heart aches everyday with a nostalgic joy for the people and the place, and the great joy I have in being here, slowly becoming a part of the place and knowing that a year from now I will be home with a heart that aches everyday for the nostalgic joy of the people and the places of NZ.

I feel at home here. Much more than I ever expected to. In fact I’ll change that, my definition of feeling at home is a bit fluffy and I’m dubious at feeling at home anywhere, so I’ll just say I don’t feel out of place here.

I have been looked after and befriended by countless people, I have been adopted by the staff in the unit, privileged to be a part of their lives. I have shared birthdays and public holidays with them and have debated the meaning of life and meaning in general. They have took the piss out of my accent and I theirs. All is fair game.

When I walk down the street I meet people I know, when I drive round town I see houses of people I know, houses I’ve been in. I know the nice places to walk, the good places to eat. I have my favourite places for drinking coffee.

In work I’m now the veteran RMO of the unit, indeed I join the club of docs here longer than 9 months. I know people. People know me.

Today I spent the morning at JT’s house picking olives. JT is a bit of a legend. A fifty year old ex-orthopod doing EM training. Grew up in Nigeria, Burma and India and schooled in Sheffield. In NZ for twenty years now.

He lives in what’s called a lifestyle block. Mostly a piece of land sizeable enough to build your own house and have a play at farming and self-sufficiency. JT has cows, chickens, a goat and some olive trees.

He’s a great believer in peak oil (the fact that our usage, dependence and extraction is at, if not past its’ peak and in fifty years we’ll be back to the stone age) and it’s hard to disagree with him. Though I suspect I’ll be gone by the time it kicks in.

So I was round to provide cheap labour (2 hours work for some coffee, lunch and a ride on the quad bike), in picking the seasons olives. It was, not to overemphasise it, simply idyllic. I could have been in some Greek olive grove on the Aegean. Though the cows nibbling at the branches I pulled low tended to ruin the image.

We took all the olives to the press (based at one of the largest wineries in Hawke’s bay) and JT said he’d show me round the factory.

The press was however deserted and in our enthusiasm to find someone we set off a rather obnoxious and embarrassing burglar alarm. So when the chefs and rather camp maitre’d from the winery appeared we looked rather sheepish and tried to appear innocent. Apparently they’d had to clear the whole restaurant cause of us. We were, by this stage, so sheepish looking we were beginning to sprout wool and be easily startled by benign, stationary objects.

On the way home, through back roads that now feel familiar I can see how I can feel at home here, no matter how I define it. But there’s still this aching heart that misses pissing rain and all you idiots. I’m going to regret this I know… Both the ‘idiot’ comment and the fact that I miss you all so much I’ll be coming home.


May 2007