on the stop bank
wandering with the shadows
cast by clouds
We walk beside the estuary taking photographs of bird life: shags, herons, ducks, Canada geese, pied stilts and bitterns. Along the stop bank we meet a rat-poisoner and his wife laying bait among the reeds. "None of the bait has been taken," he says, "so we must be doing some good." About a kilometer along our path we come across a houseboat. A boy greets us from the top deck where he's fishing. In a small tree a thrush sings his heart out: his song never faltering as it changes from high to low, from a warble to a stream of sound.
a blue heron's
On the jetty across the river Christine tricks us into thinking she's a statue standing so still holding the long handle of her white-baiter's net. It is tempting to shout out, "Have you got any? How are they running?" But white-baiters are a secretive breed and rarely admit their success. We hope the bread we carry to feed the ducks isn't viewed as sustenance for the water rats. Coming towards us along the grassy path edged by flax is another walker with two fluffy white terriers. We pause for a brief chat about the pleasant change in the weather from yesterday's wind coming off the snow.
Look! there it is—
the bittern sculpture
on the opposite bank
It's a brisk walk back to the car. When we touch our cheeks, which feel hot and stinging, we find they are cold.
by Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime
Katikati, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
and Auckland, New Zealand