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Letter from the Country November December 2016

Voices

Mary Kippenberger24 December 2016

BB32

it’s early Saturday morning. Tents and buses lie quiet, their inner charges open mouthed in gentle slumber. Morning will be a rude awakening.

Nothing much to see but a solitary grandmother in tee-shirt nighty, long sturdy gumboots, suction cupping her way to the loo. The small boy in tow sweetly announces to the world what he is planning on loo arrival, the fat kereru watches, a magpie competes for airtime, but the boy wins.

A week after the wedding we have landed at the wonderful Wellington Folk Festival. My bones freeze, the skies have opened and my hot water bottles are in keen demand.

I have a few hot water bottles. Too few to mention. Well not too few. I have one hundred and sixty hot water bottles. They hang ordered and in line on the hall wall. An installation. It’s the one place I can pretend to be crazy arty. I’m not arty.

Remember years long gone, the years when we went on holiday with our 35mm cameras and hand-held camcorders … right back to the days when you’d wait for two weeks to see what your camera had gifted … lucky if half were okay and luckier still if four out of the roll of thirty six were actually good? Remember when you’d have slides made and invite people around for fondue? Nobody really wanted to come, wanted to sit for an hour watching shot after shot of someone else’s children splashing in some lake somewhere. Well welcome to my slide show!

It seemed as if we had been preparing for this wedding for years. In fact it was four months. My ‘to do’ list grew, cross one off, replace with two. The deadline marched without mercy toward THE BIG DAY.

Kate and Danny were to have an outdoor wedding, a gathering around a roaring bonfire on the top paddock. Long range weather forecasts were pored over on a daily basis. None would give us the hope we craved. Little grey clouds with teardrops dripped from every graphic … closer to the day those same clouds blackened and a last minute thunderbolt waggled a bold yellow finger at us. I bought umbrellas.

Danny’s whanau, Kate’s whanau, it was all hands to the deck and by the time the dogs announced the first arrivals we were as good as ready.

As friends arrived they brought stories. Stories of hail, driving rain and bitter southerlies. They came rugged up with heads bent to an expected wind. Rain hadn’t yet hit Te Rangi, but it would.

Dennis took Big Red up the hill, diesel and matches thrown in the back. Unrelenting rain had left our fire tower sodden and listless. Nothing seemed to be coaxing her out of this sulk. The fence-posted tea lights along the track twinkled when able.

I suggested a game change. Danny said no, he was going to marry his Katie in front of that bonfire even if it meant they were the only ones there. Umbrellas were brought out; the guests were politely resolute as they pictured that slippery dark walk up the hill.

A sudden whoosh sent eyes upward, a huge light filled the sky. An unexpected break in the weather gave hope and we descended on the fiery blaze. A full moon smiled down and stars twinkled where tea lights didn’t. Someone pushed me forward to a seat in the front row and everything became oblivious to me … everything but my Kate marrying her Danny.

The light flickered and sang, sparks rose higher and higher. Prehistoric shapes revealed deep in the belly of the blaze. Peter asked the question, Danny and Kate answered easily. With a smile he pronounced them man and wife. A loud cheer followed by spontaneous song wrapped itself around the happy couple.

For a moment I stood outside of the circle, drifted back into the night. My eye wandered over these precious people, beloved whanau, Danny’s dear family, friends, this village that has helped raise all our children. How very blessed.

The wedding was a gift to me, to my always over-anxious heart. I saw my beautiful daughter assured and happy. She loves and she is loved. In the end that’s all there is.

Mary Kippenberger24 December 2016

BB32

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