When I went home, back in 2012, one of the places I had to revisit was the river in the photograph below.
It was the scene of much childhood joy. It was my river. I loved the smell of it as it flowed out of the valley and onto the plains. I loved the scent the stones would throw up from under our wet and wriggly bodies as we baked ourselves on top of them, teeth chattering, after being ordered out of the river to warm ourselves a while. I loved picnics there ... warm Greggs cordial in big glass beer bottles, and egg sandwiches and cakes Mum had baked. And I loved the way my hair would smell, full of river water, on the way home.
Later, when body consciousness forced me out of the river and those idyllic childhood days, I returned with my dog. She seemed to share my passion for the river. I would skim stones for her from the shore.
Fast-forward decades and everyone warned me, when I went home ... things will have changed. You will have idealised it. So I was cautious with my expectations, knowing that the landscapes I had loved might seem different, now I was older, more traveled.
But no ... those old landscapes, they rose up in front of me and kissed me full on the mouth. A bear hug, or more, and this deep feeling of joy over simple things like bird song and the scent of bush in the rain at Tautuku.
Nothing had changed. All of the big passionate love I had felt was still there. Those 'scapes allowed me to slip back in and love them like always. No recriminations about leaving.
Well, maybe .... just a few sly questions like, have you found anywhere better? Name one place where the air smells like this ...
Did you miss us?