Here we are again, in lockdown across the whole country. Where we are in Taranaki, we haven’t been in any form of lockdown since May 12 last year, which must seem pretty astounding to most of the world. I think it is 170 days since we last had a Covid case in the community anywhere in the country, though there have been plenty caught and isolated in mandatory quarantine at the border. Despite the evidence to the contrary, some still persist in describing our Covid status as dumb luck. I am not alone with an uncomfortable feeling that there are people who would be delighted to see us fail. Some of them even live in NZ – an example of political allegiance taking precedence over common sense and humanity, perhaps?
What is disconcerting is to see the spiteful glee from some on social media. Mostly men from the UK, Canada and the USA, they are referred to on Twitter as ‘the northern hemisphere reply guys’ because they will pop into conversations to sneer and jeer, delighting in how our country is now grappling with a Covid incursion. It proves them right, you see. Given how many of them don’t even realise that Australia and NZ are actually different countries separated by an ocean (It is a 3 hour flight between), I think it may be time to dig out all those world maps that leave NZ off entirely. I would be quite happy if they just forgot we existed again. ***
It seems New Zealand is going to be splendid test case for whether it is actually possible to contain and then eliminate the Delta strain when it is loose in the community. If it can be done, we will do it over the next few weeks but at this stage, the outcome is unpredictable.
Like everybody else, my real life world has become much smaller again, focused inwards within the boundary of the bubble I share with Mark and Dudley dog.
Sometimes I get a reminder of my ignorance. Camellia tsaii is the one of those. It is a species camellia with tiny white flowers and small leaves with a serrated edge. We used to grow it in our nursery days and I see it is still produced commercially in New Zealand and often commended for its fragrance (more ‘light scent’ than fragrant, in my book) and its arching habit of growth with an estimated height of 2.5m.
Somehow, it took me a long time to make the connection between those tidy, bushy little plants about 80cm high and this plant in the garden. Behold Camellia tsaii, admittedly many decades old. It still has masses of tiny flowers – lightly scented – and feeds the tui. So too does it have the typical serrated foliage and graceful, arching growth. It is just that it is about seven metres high. I am sure the customers who bought a plant from us back when we used to retail were never advised that it had the potential to become a graceful, small tree.
It used to be larger but a chunk was brought down with a large branch falling from a tree above. Mark recalled a totally random piece of information. Most camellias make good firewood but tsaii was different. It was a much lighter wood and it sparked horrendously. Mark is a wood connoisseur, you understand, having been a woodturner back in his younger days and with decades of experience bringing the winter firewood into the house. He can always identify which wood we are burning and will balance the daily winter woodbaskets between quick-burning and slower-burning firewood. Tsaii originated in Vietnam, Burma and southern China, and I wonder whether the lighter wood is an indication of it being a lower canopy forest tree.
It is however a handsome little tree, our Camellia tsaii, is it not?
May you stay safe and well wherever you are. My totally non-scientific observations from social media tell me that cinnamon scrolls and cheese puffs are the dominant baking themes this lockdown. Given it was sourdough bread last time, these quicker options might suggest we are hoping to triumph over Covid sooner rather than later. All I can offer is the best cheese puff recipe I have tried. It does need tapioca flour which is more widely available now than it used to be. I haven’t been out but if your local Asian supermarket is still open, it seems to be a staple there if Countdown and New World don’t have it.
*** Just as an example of how vile the spiteful glee can be, here is somebody called Matthew Lesh who writes for the Telegraph in the UK starting a gloat at NZ’s expense with “Poetic justice is beautiful”. What on earth is wrong with these people?