Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Swimmer's Lament

Charlie swimming blissfully like a little otter on a hot summer day. The Rangitikei not far from where it rolls out of the Ruahine.

Evening 25 Jan. 2012 - Charlie and I have just returned from the swimming pool at his school a few doors down from our house. We have a key over the summer holiday so after coming home from work on a very hot afternoon we headed down for a wee dip before dinner. As we swam and played I couldn't help but let my mind drift a bit to the mountains, and how on a long summers day, and sometimes even in the midst of winter if a staunch enough challenge is issued, the deep green tinted clear depths of a Ruahine mountain river pool prove so alluring. Perhaps I am spoiled by my time amongst the rivers, but the chilling embrace and the tingling of flesh and spirit afterwards are far more refreshing there than in the tepid waters of a city swimming pool.

Some days you get lucky enough to spend the whole day just meandering up and down the river, looking for the best pools to be embraced by. Above is the Pourangaki river, a ways down from the hut on a stretch with fast water and big pools. That, plus a hot day, adds up to loads of fun! We certainly do not have to worry about being thirsty.

John on the Kawhatau river on another brilliant summer day. Don't be fooled! Days like this are really very rare in the mountains, so when you get one it is best to grab onto it and relish each second. It is good to be reminded of such simple pleasures.

The Waikamaka river on possibly the finest summer day I have personally spent in the Ruahine in my near 20 years of being amongst them. The river was low, travel was easy, the sun was shining, and it was hot. Normally a dip into any mountain river is relatively chilly proposition and the stay in equally short. On this day the normally frosty reception negated by the heat and the days labour to arrive here. To sit in a mountain river in natures very own whirlpool was just simply a luxury. This is living!

A different scenario. A different time of year. But look at that pool just calling out. Nigel, well dressed to ward off the winter chill gazing into the lovely depths. Soon after I observed this scene I took off my clothes and crossed the river just down from the pool. I climbed onto that moss covered rock on the other side, braced myself, and jumped in. It was well over my head and like jumping into ice water. I emerged very quickly yelling and screaming and completely alive! I have no photo to verify this, well I do, but this was back in the age of film, and I did not convert that one to digital. You will have to trust me.

"I meet the Tukituki"
 No webbed feet or even talons
grip this moss covered greywacke
as I brace myself quite ungracefully
above the rivers song
I look to my mate for reassurance
none is forth coming except
anticipation of his own pleasure
Too late to back out now
I release myself of my clumsy perch
and for a brief exalting moment
hover above my doom
and plunge into the deep embrace
down into the clear darkening depths
familiar and welcoming
part of me wanting to remain
yet emerge I do bellowing
laughing and crying out for joy
My friend smiles and shakes his head
I dress and we go back down the river
I keep looking back
-written at Barlow hut 2004

Waterfall creek. No way out now!

John not long after me. It is an awesome pool.

Charlie carrying on the tradition of enjoying the rivers. Closer to home, and in the Tararua's but he has already done his share of Ruahine "swimming". Love the look on his face as he scrambles to get out of the late winter water.



Ojibwe Confessions said...

Hey Rob, That is an awesome tale of the waters and the pictures are fantastic. You are so lucky to be able to take it in. It is good that you take advantage of the beauty out there. Many of us don't do that. We have access to nature and don't take it. I admire that in people. Some people are in fact doers. Do this and do that. That is the way to be. Your son is getting some great memories and experiences with his Dad. You can't buy that. Great.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Steve,
Just saw your lonely comment here, kia ora! I had been up at Waitangi for a 5 days experiencing Aotearoa for the very first time in so many ways. I thought of you a few times e hoa. mauri Ora!