Felicity was at least eighty-six years old. She was still trim and able enough to live on her own, except she didn’t live on her own. She lived with her husband, Laughton, who was eighty-nine. When their dog of thirteen years took ill he was too big and heavy for them to lift it into the car to take to the animal care shelter. They had to get the neighbour over to give a hand. Of course, the neighbour didn’t mind.
But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about how a storm blew in from nowhere and decimated the entire village. The neighbours seem to have disappeared. Laughton was killed by a piece of flying roofing. Felicity was literally alone.
Felicity knew that the electricity and water wouldn’t be turned on for days – such was the serious extent of the storm. She also knew that it could be days before anyone reached her house and could remove Laughton’s body.
Dear practical Felicity! She thought if she hurried, before all the cold escaped from the cabinet freezer, she could perhaps put Laughton’s body in there to freeze until help arrived. Laughton was old and light but an enormous weight for Felicity to push and shove. First she got one ankle on the edge of the freeze, and then the other. Gradually she worked to the knees. Once his bottom was over the edge the whole corpse slithered into the freezer. It had taken Felicity well over an hour and she was exhausted. Everything had happened so fast. It was as if she was in a bad dream.
She went to close the freezer lid. It wouldn’t shut. Rigor mortis had set in and Laughton’s knees were sticking up above the closing level.
It wasn’t until then that Felicity burst into tears.
When Ingrid gave Harry a weather vane for his birthday he was more than pleased. He had always wanted one, and this was the perfect one to get. It was a metal cockerel whose beak turned to indicate the direction of the wind. Below the cockerel were four letters pointing to the directions of North, South, East, and West.
The corner of the roof of the garden shed was the ideal place for it. It could be seen both from the kitchen and the living room windows. Generally speaking, one should know what to wear when one ventured outside. Some wind directions were inclined to be cold; others warm.
The problem was Harry didn’t have a compass. He vaguely knew the direction of North. Having the N-pointer indicating that general direction would be good enough. The S-pointer for South was easy; it was opposite to the N-pointer! When it came to East and West Harry didn’t have any idea which was left and which was right. He imagined standing facing the North Pole with the N-pointer. He knew the capital city was on his right so the E-pointer went that way. The rest was simple; the W-pointer was opposite the East!
How fine it looked from the kitchen window. Ingrid would never be bored by the weather, and nor would he. There! The cockerel turned and was pointing south. So it was a southerly wind! Or should that be northerly? Did the cockerel’s beak in fact point to the direction in which the wind was coming or the direction in which the wind was going? The weather vane had come with no instructions. As for the nomenclature of wind – does a Nor-Wester mean that is the direction the wind is coming from or going to? Then some visiting know-all suggested that the East and West indicators were the wrong way around.
Anyway, it looks lovely from the house. It is an ornamentation; a visual enhancer. It’s been there for seven years now. It’s just that no one knows the way the wind blows.
The jolly internet has gone down. It sometimes does that during a storm. Apparently there’s a raging wind outside so I’m not surprised that things have got a bit shaky. The trouble is I’ve got a deadline to get an article to a local paper within the next two hours, which is why I got out of bed so early to write it. The Tourist Bureau puts out a free newspaper every week. I had better get the article ready in preparation to send the minute the internet connection comes back. I said I would report on the weather and surf conditions at the beach at Whangamata, which is fifty miles away. It’s the summer season, and people will want to check things before coming to the beach.
Early this morning I took a stroll along the beach at Whangamata. People, even at this early hour, were taking their dogs for a walk, throwing sticks and Frisbees. A couple of runners were enjoying the early morning to get in their exercise for the day. The sunrise was magnificent. It transformed the sea and its gentle waves into summer gold! Already several groups of people were setting up where clearly they were going to spend the day, swimming and lying in the brilliant sunshine. I expected the beach to get fairly crowded as the day progressed, and indeed I was right. As I returned from my walk a lot of sun-worshippers had descended on the beach with hampers loaded with picnic lunches. It was to be a typical day at the lovely Whangamata beach.
I asked one gentleman with a fishing rod where the best places to fish were, and he said anywhere beyond the swimming flags placed there by the surf life-savers. I also asked if he ever caught anything, and he said he got the occasional snapper and also gurnard, especially when the weather was brilliant like it is today. With his electric Kontiki longline fishing line the baited fishhooks could be taken way out to sea in such calm weather. The snapper and gurnard come a bit closer to shore in the spring and return to the depths in the autumn, so hooking them in summer is within the Kontiki’s range.
So come on down, visitors to the region! It’s safe! It’s sunny! Grab a towel and head for the beach! It’s always summer at Whangmata!
I see the internet is now back up, so I’ll send this article to the editor before this frightful weather outside causes an electric blackout.
Mr Cooper always carried his umbrella when he went out, even if it wasn’t going to rain. There are some days when one can be one hundred percent certain that it will not rain, such as a beautiful blue-sky mid-summer’s day. Still, on such a day, Mr Cooper took his umbrella.
“Why do you take your umbrella with you when the sky is blue, the air is clear, the birds are singing, and it’s a let’s-go-on-a-picnic day?” asked Mrs Harker poetically.
“The meteorologists are unreliable at best,” said Mr Cooper dourly and judgementally. “Take their forecast as gospel and one day you’ll get caught out.”
However, the reliability of the meteorologists was proven one day. It rained as predicted. Mr Cooper’s raised his umbrella. Lightning struck. Mr Cooper died.
“He may as well have flown a kite like Benjamin Franklin in 1752 from the spire on Christ Church in Philadelphia built in 1754,” observed Mrs Harker knowledgeably, wryly, and unsympathetically.
Jonathan applied for a job at the weather place: the Meteorological Office. There were over two hundred applicants. Goodness! What chance did Jonathan have? So many of the applicants had climatic skills equal to Jonathan’s.
The interviews were held. The applicants were whittled down to ten. Jonathan’s name was among them.
Further interviews were scheduled. Two applicants were named. Jonathan’s name was one of the two. Yes! Yes!
And in the end, guess who got the job? Guess who! Guess who! Jonathan! It was Jonathan!
When push came to shove both candidates were identical in knowledge and experience. Both had breezy personalities. Both were industrious. But Jonathan had the edge. He had listed ballroom dancing as one of his interests. It was something the other candidate lacked.
It was the chance of a life time; in fact, it was a rare privilege. Benjamin had been given the opportunity to live for a year far, far away from civilization, in the heartland of the indigenous peoples. He would learn from their ancient wisdoms.
He had read that by looking up at the sky, the people could tell what the weather would be like for the next week. By seeing a person’s footprint in the soil, they could tell how many hours or days or weeks or months had passed since that footprint fell. By seeing how early this or that tree flowered, it was known how long the summer would be. The height in the tree that such and such a bird nested was an indication of whether or not to make hay. Simply by placing an ear to the ground, you could tell the distance and number of a grazing herd. And the moon! They planted gardens and crops by the phases of the moon!
All these things Benjamin would learn. They would be treasures gleaned to last a life time; a richness of wisdom to serve through the years ahead!
There’s one now, sitting on his own in the corner of the local country pub! It’s the chief! The inheritor of these ancient wisdoms! The leader of the peoples!
“Hi!” said Benjamin. “How’s it going?”
“Good,” said the paramount chief. “How are you?”
“Good,” said Benjamin. “What’s the weather going to do?”
“I don’t know,” said the chief. “I haven’t had the radio on.”