Temples of Green (and Brown)

Some people go to church to hold onto their bits of sanity. I go for a walk in the bush. In fact the lofty naves of Christian churches, especially their gothic variety, the majestic European cathedrals, seem to me nothing but stylized forests with a suspended canopy held up by pillars. But the stroll through a forest is unconfined by heavy books on altars and no donation box decorates the exit. The different climes of our planet’s many regions make for a variety of thickets, some dense, some stoically scarce, some lush and impenetrable, some like manicured by imperial gardeners. The subtropical bush of New Zealand’s Northland is timid and well behaved. No poison critters lurk under foot and not screaming monkeys fly overhead. The ever varying cries of the Tui up in the crown of a giant Kauri tree, the teasing dance of the fantail always just out of arm’s reach, the sweet scent of the Manuka trees, the unique geometry of the fern trees, all make for a quivering feast for the senses. The mind goes quiet for a while.

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I started out just before noon from Aluna’s anchorage in “downtown” Opua, took the car ferry across the ever-busy Veronica channel. From the Okiato side it’s a short walk along the asphalt road up hill, then a small sign leads me off onto a side street. The well of the first European capital of New Zealand is fenced off and a sign tells a flimsy history of land deals between the Brits and the Maori. Land purchased from the chiefs? What currency was used to pay up? Muskets? Gunpowder? Then an elevated walkway leads straight across the marsh, over a meadow and then descends into the bush. The delicate balance of green and brown, sprouting and rotting, light and darkness, erases the aftertaste of the shady world of economics I’ve been exposed to recently. No abstract values interfere.

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My Swiss genes stir and I don’t resist the urge to climb a mountain. Nothing even remotely close to the colossal rocks of the Alps anywhere in sight, but Mount Tikitikioure will have to do. It serves as a platform for cell phone and all kinds of other antennas and a service road leads up to the summit. That summit stands at not even 200 Meters elevation, but it still provides a mighty good view out onto the waters of the Bay of Islands.

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Back home at night the soothing of strained muscles and worn soles makes for good sleeping. With the dire forecast of well-paid climatologists we better enjoy our vegetating gardens while they’re still around! Bare and bone-dry deserts windswept with grey exhaust gases and clouds of black soot await us while our neglected offspring fight to the knuckle for little droplets of water.

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One Response to “Temples of Green (and Brown)”

  1. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Beautiful as always!!!!!

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