Tag Archives: Native plants and trees

It will Fluctuate

26 Apr

ADiaryofaPandemicMaster

April 26, 2020

Day 34

 

ANewMoon

 

During the previous month members of our tight-knit community have taken it upon themselves to do the easement road maintenance while the workers normally contracted for this job are locked down. Grass is weed-whacked and gorse rooted out. Cracks in the road have been marked for future attention and safety barriers are in the process of being water blasted and re-painted. One project undertaken by the Mahakirau Forest Estate Society Incorporated (MFESI) is the construction of a research ‘hub’ near the picnic area that will serve to house visiting biologists and guest workers. This week individual volunteers, working from an online schedule so that only one person is on site at a time, began staking out and clearing the land for this facility. Life goes on and despite us all being constrained by the challenges of this contagion, our work continues.

Today I started dismantling an old, out of disused outhouse that was knocked over by a falling tree a few years back. I’m using the thin plywood from the walls to make small storage boxes that will sit on the new shelves in the workshop shipping container. Internal framing is coming from scrap wood, fasteners are being culled from a box of screws collected over time from various other building modifications. I throw very little away and am glad I have this habit because all of the hardware stores are closed. Like the whelk, I must live in my home while I build it. The storage boxes will replace the hodgepodge of cardboard ones that contain all of the things that won’t yet fit into our small (but growing) house. I will build one a week while working on other projects higher on the priority list, but eventually they’ll all be done and I can cross them off and move on down the line.

With one piece of outhouse wall to work with, I set up a temporary workbench on the deck of the forest porch and hummed Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning as the sun poured in like butterscotch. The days are getting shorter and colder, but there are still a few warm and pleasant hours on either side of noon. The swallows are active in this interlude, their scratchy chirps filling the sky as they swoop and wheel around the clearing below the house. A few quail come to the steps and call and are fed by their humans. After their meal they sit in the warm sun in the grass at the edge of the grove and dream of summer. Chaffinches have returned from wherever it is they go during the summer and the moreporks are calling earlier in the afternoon. In this tail end of Indian Summer two of the rose bushes are putting out buds and the climbing rata are blooming in orange brush strokes all over the valley.

AARata

For a few minutes, Valerie walked in the garden, breathing in the outside air for the first time in three weeks. A smile wreathed her face as she contemplated what must be done to return the place to order. For now that is all she can do, but it is enough.

Other jobs done included two loads of laundry in the newly painted ‘laundry room’. I figured out how to clean the antique Chinese white ceramic lamp whose close spaced decorative lattices have been collecting dust for years. Counting the holes in four square inches and multiplying by the total surface area told me that there are over a thousand tiny, irregularly shaped triangles to clean. I put the lamp base in a bucket of soapy water collected from the outflow of the washing machine where I will let it soak for a few days. Should take about a week to finish that tedious task by doing a little bit here, a little there, in between other endeavours.

Fading light and lowering temperatures told me to stop and wrap up. Shut down, tools down…lockdown. I walked to the verandah and scanned the sky above the ridge to the northwest. It took me a while, but I found the thin sliver of the new moon hiding in plain sight, chasing the sun. So beautiful. So absolutely, amazingly beautiful. I linger there for a time and marvel, then go inside to check the numbers.

AApr26NZCov

When asked by a brash young reporter what he thought the stock market would do that week, financier James Pierpont Morgan famously replied, “It will fluctuate”. I think that holds true for pandemics as well.

9 New cases, up from the day before. 24 Recovered cases. Ratio of recovered cases to active cases is 77%. Two Zeroes on the board today but again they are just place holders. 328 people are still infected.

Thus far I am not aware of anyone of note in New Zealand weighing in on the question of  whether previously infected people develop immunity or not. Can you catch Covid-19 again and again? Other questions are percolating to the surface as time goes on. Massive strokes are being reported in young patients currently hospitalised with active infections and a great deal of the at home deaths in New York City during the past month were from strokes. I will wait for further developments as April draws to a close and reflect on how fortunate I am to have been to be able to self-isolate in such a wonderful, peaceful spot.

 

AChaffinch