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and by moving on, i meant…

…staying put. For a few more days, at least. Found out that the strawberries would be finishing completely this weekend, and decided it'd be nicer to stay and finish off the season with the rest of the workers than dash off Thursday for points unknown. Plus, I'd been procrastinating in the “plans” department. It's been a great last few days, though. Tuesday I got out of picking entirely, as Ian needed another body to help out in the shop, and we had Wednesday and Thursday off to let the berries have an extra long ripening before the last picking of the season. Anne, Kathrin and I made full use of these two days.

Te Mata Peak was Wednesday, an easy but unique walk up a rocky, windy ridgeline that resembles a wave, paused mid-break, frozen into earth, rock, grass and trees. It inclines gently from the valley floor on one side, rising to a rough, harsh cliff face on the other, falling down into the Tukituki River. From the top we could see all of the Hawke's Bay region, from coast to valley and even a little way into the inland mountain ranges – all of this inland view framed by a perfect, if dim, rainbow. Ridiculously windy, though. Now I see why this is a favorite spot for hang-gliding. Anne and I jumped a fence to climb to the very tippity-top of the rocks, but could only stand posed for one photograph before we had to literally drop and cling to the rocks for dear life. Yikes. On the way down we stopped in a young grove of California Redwood trees that have been planted and maintained. I shredded a small branch and inhaled the sharp evergreen, and pretended I was in the US, in Northern Cali with Ashley and her friends from the ranch where I spent time in November.

We ran tons of errands (I can't seem to go a day without spending money…I guess it's a good thing I'm staying on for another couple of working days): second hand clothing store! Yay new clothes! We also rented about six movies, and have been doing a fair amount of vegging out since then. When we got back to the shed, we discovered that Charlotte and Barret, two of the pickers who've been living with us, had vanished. Gone. Room empty, keys on the table, food out of the kitchen – adios! No note, no nothing. They didn't even bother to tell Ian (our boss) that they were leaving. I'd always gotten the impression that they didn't much like the rest of us, but jeez. Mostly this was an exciting thing, though, because they'd left behind their ice cream and chocolate cake. AND their empty room meant that I could move inside!! Oh, to sleep in a bed again.

Thursday was absolutely divine. Woke up without an alarm, read in bed for an hour, then got up for a cup of tea, which I drank in bed, with my book. Actually read for most of the day, finishing my book (“Children of God” by Mary Doria Russel – the sequel to “The Sparrow” – Oh. My. God. So freaking good.), and later watched “Whale Rider” with A and K. To those of you interested in what I'm doing here: watch this movie! Written by a Kiwi, filmed in NZ (North Island), etc.

Today I've brought out the maps, books, brochures, and the NZ Lonely Planet guide…gotta make some decisions. George, the waterskiier I met on New Years, lives nearby, and works on a vineyard with his parents. We've been in touch, and he's promised to ask around about work and accommodation for me, so it may be that I won't be going very far. If that falls through, though, I'm thinking it might be time for some more hiking, but we shall see. Sunday is the new d-day for moving, so, until then…

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