“Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquility” – Donovan, Hurdy Gurdy Man
I was stirred awake the other morning by an eccentric horse, come window cleaner. In my eyes, through the mopped window, where the startled horse had been, hung a surreal dawn. As though some street orange dye had mistakenly run out into the dreary setting, mis-orchestrated, rendering the whole scene stained an improbable midnight orange. I recalled a similar dawn one morning back home, that came of many months of rigorous pursuit. This one, however, just came to me, as all good things do, with time.
Laying low the past weeks, on account of New Zealand being mockingly expensive, has compelled me in my Supertramp transformation. Not much to do but everything. With time on my side I hit the surf. The backdrop from the lineup at Kaikoura is the work of an artist drunk on mountains. Which is just as well as the swell was painfully sober. When my arms were noodles and my face glowing I’d seek the shade of a good novel. When my eyes drew heavy I’d conjure an elaborate meal. Finally, giving in, I’d listen to the good time tunes and doze away in my sun-baked van.
I decided that I had the time, and the presence, to tackle some of the greats, and having studied the cover of every book in the shop, more in the luxury of time than for the sake of passing it, I picked out Great Expectations. Dickens certainly had a unique command of the English language, as though rather directing it to it’s own device than naively wielding it. I realised midway into the weighty tome, though, that it is an altogether predictable story, with exquisite descriptions of characters but lacking their genuine presence. Giving it a studied feel. All in all I found the plot, well, greatly expected.
In contrast were the surprises that met me along the way, while I wasn’t looking. Warm new faces, and familiar faces, and dreamy vistas I could not have found in any book. Somehow, though I’m not quite sure, I get the feeling that this is scraping at the essence of life on the road. I look forward to my time further South in the great mountains and the ragged shores of the West Coast, the harsh glaciers and testing passes; the destinations. For now though, as I free wheel off track, I’m content with the small pleasures that find me along the way.