One day, while her husband was busy with a year of activity, Mira thought this would be the time to explore places she’d never seen before, where things are new and different, and so she set her sights on that adventure. After deciding on New Zealand where her friend lived, she thought why not Tasmania on the way, the not too hot part of Aussie? And so she set off to tramp in these places.
She learned about the saddest most complete genocide in known human history and the tiny island where it ended and wanted to go there. Flinders is an island off the island of Tasmania off the island continent of Australia. It is possibly the most classically beautiful place she’s ever seen. A beach for every inhabitant with clear turquoise water, brilliant green vegetation, orange lichen as if painted on rocks by her kindergarten self. Sadness and beauty cohabiting, along with private swimming on white sandy shorelines. Life encapsulated.
If the local Council had requested submissions to bid for flora and fauna design , the winner would be Dr. Suess, which would best explain the fantasy forms. She walked through the central Cradle Mountain track and was regaled by landscape molded by long gone aboriginal first peoples now consisting of 80% indigenous species. And delightful they are.
All three venomous snakes of Tasmania checked off - tiger, copperhead, white mouth whip- and none of them scary, all shy and well behaved - her too, just stopping and letting them pass - no time for photos. Ahh, sweet walking afternoons.
And the wallabies, wombats, echidna, easy to see unlike devils, quols, and the flightless New Zealand Kiwi - but not the cheeky flightless Weka below. Mira noticed a change in incarcerated animal phenomona from her youth. The emphasis now on conservation and reintroduction - on endangered versus exotic. She loved the sweet Kokako song and hopes the rescue plan is successful - for Kiwis too.
Confusion was the norm here. Left side driving, living in the future, sun in the north, she was feeling akimbo. Which way was up? What does it matter? Had she come here to experience confusion and chaos? Her inner world was a good reflection of the outer turmoil. Who was she? Who was her friend? What was going on? Where are her bearings? What are bearings anyway?
Mira was curious about the hardy natives of Australia who’d made their way via land bridge about 40,000 years ago and managed to live and survive until the civilized species members turned up and had other interests in mind. What most touched her was the bit of contemporary art work that she could find, much of it by women.
And in stark contrast, New Zealand has two official languages and Maori is seen in signage and place names everywhere ... mellifluous sounding, and hard on her memory.
Google told her that she needed to reset her time correctly or there was no access to Internet. Which correct time would that be? There was a constant battle with her technical devices about what time it actually was here. Is this not the best evidence that time is a human construct? And if the world ends, do New Zealanders have the advantage of lasting longer?
After a near miss looking the wrong way as she pulled in front of a car, Mira developed the common malady of right side drivers in left side countries - fear of turning right. After that she carefully thought about every necessary right hand turn and wouldn’t you know she gradually became more comfortable with the whole thing. Good thing this was South Island New Zealand where there are many more sheep than people, and they caused her no driving problems in the least.
Mira and her friend decided to walk the Tongariro Round the Mountain track of desert, boulder, dry scree slopes encircling a series of volcanoes. And after a few days of strenuous walking they began to grate on one another with the result being emotional eruptions of inner turmoil, leaving a different sort of rearranged and scarred landscape in its wake.
With a heavy pack on her back weighing a good proportion of her body weight and clambering over steep loose boulder strewn courses Mira was afforded the experience of being off balance a good amount of the time. The experience brought forth undeniable truths about the limitations of her body, her ability, her courage, her strength, her persistence, her age … her reality.
As she took stock of the types of conveyances used, Mira listed: feet often aided by poles (new best friends), horse, bicycle, motorcycle, car, boats, bus, helicopter, and airplanes. This got her to wondering why all this wanderlust, this need to keep moving, sort of like the sea creatures who need a constant flow of fresh water over their bodies? Is there a primal drive to see what lies beyond…. a hunger to move through a scene, engage with it, become part of it?
And then, there it is, the one beyond the one before … endlessly queued up experiences waiting for her intervention. And one of the mountain tops was so windy she nearly blew off in the brief top crossing. No one there to notice. It leaves a funny feeling. Sort of like when we are gone, and everyone who knew us is gone … were we really here, hopping from place to place?
A clear night was worthy of the trip itself. Even the two Magellanic clouds were visible - a new stellar phenomenon to her. The milky way sprayed across a velvet dark sky feels like home on the edge of its vastness. Friendly skies indeed. Upside down like everything else, no pole star but a dark center, “Orien, upended, sword pointing upward, and canis major hanging like a dead dog from a butcher’s hook” so said Walter Moody in The Luminaries that she enjoyed while traveling New Zealand South Island, home of this mystery.