Eyes Front

Goofy blue dozer. This photo was taken in Ngawai, from a visit there with my sister and brother-in-law way back in 2014.

Since just after Christmas, I’ve been dogged by a sore knee that has curbed any walking I’d like to be doing. But now at last, it’s mending. Regular visits to the physio. are bringing closer the ability to walk free of pain. With one of my knees not working properly, I’ve been lacking pivot. Like the rusty old bulldozer above, I can only slowly push forward with eyes front.

Being able to get back to walking along the inlet makes me happy and yesterday I was able to do just that. The day was breezy and bright. Also, the spoonbills are back.

Compared to the grey heron I saw here the other day, with its darting, gimlet-eyed, rapier-beaked approach to food gathering, the spoonbills appear like round-shouldered, old people, perpetually stooping, slowly scooping.

What’s better than one spoonbill? Why, two of course.

Seen in context, spoonbills scope the inlet, with the city of Ōtepoti, Dunedin as a backdrop.

I passed some other walkers, some with their dogs. One large dog barking at the seagulls, another small one scuppering along like a little cloud of cappuccino froth. It reminded me of my sister’s dog which is a cross between a maltese and a shih tzu (with a bit of bishon). Pretty cute mix.

I’m never the first to say hello to those I pass on my walks. For Kiwis, friendliness is the cardinal rule. One person’s greeting today sounded like an accusation, as if she sensed my reluctance. Even the woman sitting on one of the seats, reading a book, fighting to keep the pages from whipping closed in the breeze, felt beholden to look up and say hello. I wanted to say to her, It’s okay. You don’t have to.

Not taken on my walk yesterday, but a favourite photo of the royal spoonbills that visit our harbour. It shows the yellow eyebrow of the mature bird and its stained bib. The plume is in good form too, so I must have taken this photo sometime in their breeding season – October to March.

Gulls gathered on the sun-warmed asphalt of the car park weren’t feeling obliged or pressed to move as cars edged past them.

Meanwhile, back home, I’m writing. Characters are beginning to reveal themselves.

Muttonbird Tree House not only has a new bunch of Craggan Dhu locals, but updates the lives of characters from the first and second books: Craggan Dhu and Quick Blue Fire. Plus, there’s a mystery to solve. Even I don’t know how that will unravel. But I’m looking forward to finding out!

Reading: Picked this book up from the library today. A couple of chapters in and I’m hooked. Each sentence holds something perpendicular to what might be supposed. Where will this writer take me? There’s no telling, but it promises a fascinating escape into an unexpected ordinary.

Listening to: Tami Neilson finding her music inspirational for writing about challenge and small town life – earthy, powerful, raw, authentic.


Writer from Dunedin, New Zealand.

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