I sat in the supermarket car park. 1.30pm Monday the 23rdof March 2020.

The announcement.

I felt shaky, a bit teary. Someone remarked it felt like war.

Messages have been clear and strong and with each panui comes the phrase, ‘Be kind’.

Jacinda Ardern you have had quite the watch. Unrelentingly strong, compassionate, brave and real you have led us through some very tough times and now this. I love you. I love you and yours. You and the extraordinary people around you striving to keep our bubbles safe.

In every community the goodness of us floats resolutely to the top. Social media is full of love, humour, emotional and practical support. This is now day one of lock down. We have a long way to go and we all need to be vigilant, not only in staying within our bubbles but being alert for those who are not doing so well.

I hope by publication we have come out the other end all safe and sound and with a few silver linings tucked under our belt.

Maybe as a global family we needed this wakeup call. Sustainability. Buy less, emit less, grow more, share resources. I worry for my grandchildren and the children that they will bring into this world.

I write in March. The drought has settled in. Put its feet up. The Kaikoura stream has been sucked dry, a few algae-filled puddles cling but more weeks of this unrelenting heat and they will have surrendered. The paddocks are purple. Only a few yellowed stalks have missed hungry mouths. Winter hay dwindles.

Disappointed cows find themselves minced and in the freezer. Every time the sky darkens I hang out my washing, but to no avail. Twelve weeks.

Normally I would be getting into my dusty waka and heading for school. I now have two mokopuna at Central Hawke’s Bay College. Happy grandmother. However, with teenagers comes a new deposit into my worry account. Driving. My ability to worry has been perfected over the years and no whanau member has been exempt.

Years ago we were at a market at the Waipukurau Civic Theatre. It was quite the day. Sir Juke was playing, a film running, the stall holders doing a roaring trade. We had settled in for the afternoon, settled until I looked around and couldn’t see the then eight-year-old Kate.

I called, I looked, pace and heart quickened, I fought the rising panic, tried to inject my racing mind with common sense, but it was having none of it.

Kate was nowhere to be seen. There was only one thing for it; I would have to stop the movie. Bambi paused mid gambol, the lights went on, the call went out but no response. Next target, the band and my quavering voice across the airways. People, strangers and friends alike, heeded the call, the search was on. Police arrived.

I rang my friend Cathy Pharazyn. “She’s gone,” I whispered, “she’s been taken.”

“No she hasn’t,” came the bright reply, “she’s with me!”

Kate had told me, I hadn’t heard. I was talking. Typical.

Yesterday I waved out to Florence coming home from work, but it wasn’t Florence it was her daughter Danielle in the driving seat. Beaming. Her driving instructor father beside her. She is in the best hands, but I on the other hand better buckle up. It could be a bumpy ride for poor old worry wart me.

Well I guess it’s time for me to wander through my new day. Beginning with Danny’s birthday. We gathered differently. All twenty of us stood in a huge circle in the basin. Ten metres apart. Placing our gifts in the middle of the paddock we sang our birthday wishes and slipped back into our allocated corners of the farm.

I have bottled peaches and pears, cracked last years’ walnuts and might even tackle that book I started writing six years ago. I will reorganise, de-clutter and read. I will mulch, compost, prepare winter garden beds and record some stories.

I will keep in contact with my precious family and friends, my precious kids from school, and hope that it won’t be too long before we are allowed to hug again.

He waka eke noa … We are all in this together. Aroha tino nui ki a koutou.

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