The weather was turning. A storm was coming.
I could feel the fingers of its unspoken intention plucking with calloused and experienced fingers at the strings of the heavens, tendrils of intention reaching out and beyond the amorphous grey bulk of the main body, signalling the coming of a continually-developing canto.
Something had loosened, and some imperceptible shift, perhaps in the air pressure, had moved the light, had nudged it sideways and down, had flattened it ever so slightly and subtly depressed the surface of the ocean. The gaiety had gone out of the aerial dance, and the teal-green currents running in the bay below me had lost some of their enthusiasm. There was an indecision about them, an uncertainty about which way they were expected to go. However, it was hard to pin, hard to qualify or quantify. It was more a feeling of clouds across the moon. It was a shift in the flux of my heart.
The day was hot enough. It was still enough. Actually, it was too still. The air was a single vibrating string, a single musical note drawn out too long, the last dying chords of a Gorecki piece, or the fade to black of a Simon and Garfunkel song. It was a drawn-out promise of change, of relief from the glare of a pitiless and uncompromising day.
Above me the stainless blue had parted, had peeled back, and clouds were piling up in mounds, layers of them, each a different instrument stacked up in a vertical atmospheric orchestra. Far above were layers of finely-tuned cirrus, heading west. Or so it seemed. Beneath them swollen mounds of bleached cumulus played carelessly-deeper, stronger notes. And joining in, playing counterpoint at cross purposes, as if reading from a different score, grey cumulo-nimbus. The wind flicked its baton, as it directed, pointed, built up a climax, developed the theme and expanded the motif.
I looked down. The white sand beneath my feet was a humming crystal, vibrating in the light. It shimmered and sang. In the early-afternoon light everything was hard-edged and inscrutable. The ghosts of my tupuna, my ancestors, stayed away from the fierce directness of the sun and confined themselves to the shadows under the trees. I heard them muttering to themselves in the whispering of the pines. Occasionally one would call out, whispering: Moko, one day you will get it. One day you will put the puzzle together. I wasn’t so sure, but I acknowledged them anyway. Kia ora. Thank you.
I kicked my sandals off and shuffled my feet in the white sand until it slithered up between my toes. I dug in, trying to source coolness and solidity, but there wasn’t any to be found. I reached down through the hot and soft, digging with my toes until it flowed over my feet, and surged, molten and unforgiving, up my ankles. Still no understanding came. I was a single note in a symphony, a single ink mark on a score sheet, able to see what was around me and yet not feel the whole. Frustration built into a crescendo.
On this private beach, on my tribal lands, in sight of Kahakaharoa, where Kupe had landed and from where all the sub-tribes had spread across the land, I was close to the source. Somewhere in the textured green korowai draped down the sides of Puke Rangatira, the hapu’s maunga, were the sacred springs of Te Puna I te Ao Marama. Before me the water swirled and turned, headed first this way by the wind and then that way by the tide. At this end of the harbour it had a teal clarity, a sense of purpose unmuddied and distracted by human dissonance. It seemed to invite me in, as if it had stories to share.
I undressed and waded out until the water had risen up around my chest. The tide had just turned and was beginning to flow from left to right as the harbour began its twice-daily ritual of emptying and renewing itself. Death and rebirth. Nearby, a mullet surged from the water, hung for a moment, twisting silver and gleaming in the light, and then fell back beneath the surface. Another rose, and then another. My hands, fingers outstretched, turned and flexed in the currents, feeling all the moments, all the memories flowing around me. This is the way it is. This is the way it has always been. I am that I am. And you are the sum of all who have been before you.. You carry within you all the hopes and dreams of the generations who have passed this way before you.
You have a responsibility. The tupuna onshore had raised their voices, and the turquoise twisting of the currents had found a way past my stubbornness.
The wind which, until then, had been silent and motionless, suddenly flickered into life. It blew along the surface, flicking up small tufts of white foam as it tousled the surface. Then, abruptly, it painted a pattern on the surface of the harbour directly in front of me.
A dragon. It turned and swirled as if painted on the back of a lover’s silk dressing gown.
Had I been ready I could have photographed it. Well, I told myself that, if for no other reason than to remind myself I could. My camera was safely nested in its case in my car, politely but pointedly ignored for the moment and for the wonder of the moment.
However, some things are never meant to be photographed with a camera.
They are only ever meant to be photographed with the heart.