Thursday, November 29, 2007

Catherine Mair & Patricia Prime: CHASMS, HOLES, INDENTATIONS

It’s a detour, a sudden inspiration. “Let’s go to the mine and return via the beach, so the dog can have a run. We’re going to look at a big hole in the ground,” I tell three-year old William.

wire caged
on the slope’s crest
a giant dump truck

From behind a high safety net we stare down into a vast hole. “Don’t let me fall down there,” he pipes.

“There’s big boys,’ he says, pointing to some children having their photo taken in front of the gaping hole. He peers down into the quarry through the wire mesh. “Dump truck, hooge,” he tells us. On the noticeboard I read that in 1999, 97,000 oz of gold and 700,000 oz of silver were taken from the mine, most of the profit being returned to Waihi township. What will become of this small community when the mine closes in three years?

A dozen terraces below thumbnail-size men stand in a midget group while beetle-size machines labour up the chasm’s slopes to higher levels. Aeons ago this Waihi terrain would have looked as Rotorua does today.

Leaving Martha Mine we drive in the land cruiser to Waihi Beach. Across the green-blue ocean on this winter’s day Tuhua Island looks grey and bleak. “What’s that noise?” questions the child. I tell him it’s only the sound of breaking surf.

Further down the beach a child paddles dog-like on all fours through the shallows. Dogs are only allowed to cavort on the sand between March and November. Understandably.

low-tide mark –
using the garden trowel
to dig a hole

“Shall I throw this in the sea?” asks William, showing us a pinecone he’s found. Sasha, the dog, “fetches” the pinecone from the edge of the waves and after several minutes playing with it, destroys it with her teeth.

on the sand
a piece of driftwood
its anchor-like shape

The boy finds a bleached stick that he decides he’s taking home. The dog leaps around waiting for him to throw it. “NO!” he shouts. “NO, Sasha!”

over sand serrations
scarpering claws
of blue crab

We climb the half-round wooden steps of the track from the beach.

tipping sand
from our trainers
before climbing
into the land cruiser
the tailgate snaps closed

by Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime

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