All I have to offer this week are flowers.
It has been a difficult week in New Zealand. After more than 100 days of a return to Covid-free ‘normal life’, where the only major change has been closed borders and an absence of international travel in or out of the country, we are now on high alert with a fresh outbreak. Auckland is back in level 3 lockdown, the rest of us in level 2. It is a case of déjà vu.
For overseas readers, our highest level of lockdown, level 4, was one of the tightest lockdowns in the world. Level 3 sits at what most other countries called their lockdown so still stringent. We are in level 2 here which means practicing physical distancing, signing or scanning in and out of shops, adjusting to the thought of wearing masks – and a high level of personal anxiety. So pretty much the state of most of the world. It is tough when only a few days ago, we thought we had left all that behind us.
It is still early days in the pandemic. There is so much we do not know. My tolerance for the strident voices calling for opening the border, ‘learning to live with the virus’, returning to the old normality for the sake of businesses and The Economy (caps deliberate) is less than zero. There is no ‘old normality’ anywhere in the world and we had better get used to that for the next year or two at least. It is not locking down that is damaging business; it is Covid19. Business can not thrive in a situation with rampant Covid just as most can not thrive under lockdown. The choice is of an open business environment with uncontrolled community transmission, sickness, death and a very high level of anxiety and fear in the population or going for a safe but limited environment that is Covid-free most of the time. It is a stark choice but we have seen how that latter option works and I am happy to back that as the lesser of two evils.
So, we have battened down the hatches again. Like many around the rest of the country, I am grateful to the people of greater Auckland who are cooperating with efforts to stamp out this latest cluster. As I write this, it does appear to be just a single cluster, all connected to one source.
But the seasons and the plants are Covid free. It is wonderfully reassuring that the environment continues on its normal cycle even as the human inhabitants can not.
I brought home samples of three options for laying the paths in our new summer garden. The palest option is crushed limestone. While it is not as starkly white as some I have seen, I think we have decided it will be too bright, given we are going to have large areas of it. I am okay with the darker option which is largely crushed shell, though it is a little darker than I wanted. The middle one is a mix of the two and I think we will try for that one. All will compact down to give a fairly smooth surface. They are used widely on farm tracks and cattle races because they compact and don’t have sharp pieces to damage the hooves of livestock.
I retrieved this vireya rhododendron from a neglected area at the back of Mark’s vegetable garden and moved it into the Avenue Garden, where I was redoing all the underplanting two months ago. Working in our woodland areas, it occurred to me that if this garden is ever abandoned and left to its own devices, it would revert to a forest of nikau palms, puriri, kawakawa (pepper tree), tree ferns (ponga), karaka and seedling prunus, I pull out seedling nikau palms by the score and remove every seedling prunus that I come across.
In times of uncertainty, there are still flowers and gardens. Kia kaha, readers. Stay safe and stay sane.