Posted by: scribe9 | March 22, 2010

Lazy weekend

I know, I should have spent the weekend getting the photos from the rest of our trip uploaded so I could finish the saga and you could see the beauties of more of the South Island and the south end of the North Island. But you’ll have to wait, because we took it easy.

Saturday morning we went to the Growers’ Market, and loaded up on produce, as usual–avocados, oranges, apples, pears, broccoli, mesclun, carrots. We also bought chipolata sausages (skinny ones, with dried tomato and herbs), a dense German cylindrical loaf, and a bouquet. We’re getting so spoiled!

Then we went to our local bakery for stove beverages. Two doors north, at the post office, I bought envelopes and  the Time on big ideas (the first American magazine I’ve bought here; although it’s a Pacific edition it’s mostly about the US) and two doors south, at the dairy (convenience store), I bought the weekend edition of the New Zealand Herald. It’s the big Auckland paper, but despite the name it’s not the national paper; there isn’t one. Each of the big cities has its own, and the cities are fairly well spaced so each serves a big chunk of the country. As I don’t expect you to recall from an earlier post, Northland was originally part of Auckland province, and is too small to support a big daily, so we read the Herald occasionallyThe weekend paper, which appears Saturday morning (as is common with the big city papers), is what corresponds to an American Sunday paper. There’s a Sunday Herald, and other Sunday papers, but they’re tabloid-size.

The columnist in the magazine section of the weekend Herald wrote this week about queue-jumping (taking cuts in line) for a ferry serving an island near Auckland. (Surprisingly, the ferry is privately owned, as is the Auckland airport. But I digress.) He describes five different moves for getting ahead of the people who have been in the orderly line. “And the thing is, all the time these behaviours are being undertaken, you can see the people who are legitimately queuing bristling with righteous indignation. Yet no one ever says anything. Everyone–me included–just bristles and feels morally superior. God, I love New Zealand.” Come to think of it, that happens a lot in the US. No wonder I feel at home.

Saturday afternoon we headed for one of our favorite beaches. It was the first day of fall (oops–autumn), and very few people were there although the weather was glorious. As the afternoon wore on the waves wore out, and the few surfers disappeared. Even though it’s still plenty warm in both water and air, they were all wearing wetsuits–must be a habit. I didn’t even go in the water; I just read a thick novel and napped.

That beach is near the little town of Waipu, which was founded by Scots. They’re planning a winter festival in July, with a sheep painted in McLeod tartan.

They probably wouldn’t try that with Dress Stewart.

Sunday morning I took two of our Icelandic friends to St. Andrew’s. They’re Lutheran, not surprisingly. They said the Icelandic government will fund just about any Lutheran startup church, and there’s just one Catholic and a few non-Christian places of worship in the whole country. Religion in taught in schools, as it is here, but there’s  getting to be a backlash from agnostic or atheist parents. They were surprised to hear about the First Amendment.

Sunday afternoon I cut corn off the cob to make corn pudding, as my American contribution to an international potluck at the Race Relations Day observance held at the local primary school. It disappeared quickly–mostly, I’d guess, to homesick Americans; a Montanan asked me for the recipe. Somebody brought Pringles as American food; with apologies to Barry, I think that’s stretching it; you can buy them anywhere, although I wouldn’t.

Much of the entertainment was music. Three sisters, probably aged 8-18 and of Pacific Island heritage, played classical (European) string trios very well. Then a group of West Africans played drums and sang, and got at least half the crowd up dancing. A very good professional singer sang standards and “Smooth Operator” with its classic line, “Coast to coast, LA to Chicago.” (Okay, it wasn’t written by an American.)

We saw a video interview of a Maori and immigrants from various countries. Then we were supposed to get into discussion groups, but when we saw them get out the big flip pads of paper we ducked outside to see the magician brought to entertain the children. He was quite good.

It was warm and dark in the house when we got home, so we turned on the lights and opened the windows, and spent the rest of the evening swatting moths. Ah, New Zealand.

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