Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Travelling through 70's Mainland NZ

in the middle of the
patchwork flat
peeling in the sun
a cottage tumbled
far from the snowy peaks
hazy in the dusty distance

rats along the rafters

visitors at the door
far from the wind
the water
the bustle of the big
city across
and away
with fangled ideas

calf, dark curled lashes, blinking

and down the road
the main road
not a café
just a road stop
where you could have everything
you liked
even vegetarian
so long as
you didn't mind a little bit of bacon

rats, you can have your dust
calf, stay if you wish to be et
we're headed for the mountains -
maybe they can tell me -
why we left the sea

A J Ponder

This is a poem I've been working on really does in some weird way seem to capture one of our many trips through the South Island when I was quite young.  It would have been either late seventies of very early eighties but accuracy at this point is not going to be easy, nor particularly relevant, and although my memory of most of our other trips is almost non-existent this one stood out because of  an unscheduled stop at a place where the guy really did have rats along the rafters.  He opined that they (the rats) were quite entertaining and the walkways should be a more prominent feature of the house design.   And not so very far away some kind of diner, the only eating establishment for miles around - where Mum asked if they had anything vegetarian and the lady pointed to some kind of cheese muffin thing - with bacon.  A small amount of discussion, utter horror on both sides.  (Mum grew up with pigs on a farm, she might be a little lax about her vegetarianism when going out - but not when it comes to pigs the images of them being slaughtered still haunt her.)  Unstated was that there wasn't a heck of a lot of choice, it was that or the road... I believe we found something to eat - in the car. 

More of Richard Ponder's work can be found here
It's not of the hut in question as the background is clearly not the middle of the plains with miles and miles of flat land.  Gosh even thinking about all that flat land just seems wrong as I'm so used to being nestled in the hills of Wellington.  

A.J. Ponder  

 A.J. Ponder's work is also available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, and good Wellington bookstores


  1. Lovely poem. Your mother must have been ahead of her time being a vegetarian in the 70s. Great painting too.

    1. Cheers Ben, and cheers about the painting - I think it's got nice atmosphere. The whole vegetarian thing was quite odd then, and so to explain it they have the tale of being caught in the Townsville Cyclone and the stench of rotting Christmas meat...

  2. Alicia, this is very evocative, and I love the lines:

    "...just a road stop
    where you could have everything
    you liked
    even vegetarian
    so long as
    you didn't mind a little bit of bacon"

    So humorous, but also so accurate! :)

    1. Cheers for dropping by Helen - and you obviously have some experience with roadside diners - I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.

  3. I too really enjoyed the way tied your memories of the landscape in with memories of your mum's vegetarian. An anchor from which to explore perhaps...:-)

  4. Cheers Helen, I never really intended it to go along those lines - but it kind of tied up that way. The points where we as outsiders saw things very differently to the locals are the strongest memories - everything else is quite faded.