Every now and then I have a dream of Ohakune. I can't predict these dreams and I can't often interpret them either; but they have one thing in common, which is that they always give me a feeling of groundedness ... if that's a word. I mean that, however portentous or nightmarish or merely trivial they might be, in the aftermath I feel some kind of sweet authenticity has been given me, as if there is a place on this earth I belong, even though I'm not there now, even though I rarely visit. This latest one I was out on the Raetihi Road, just up past the big bend where you turn off for Lakes Reserve, and almost outside the Hammond's farm, where I went and stayed on many weekends of my childhood. I was hitchhiking, where to I do not know, only that it was in the direction of Raetihi. Or rather, that was my ultimate intention, whereas in the actual dream I was walking back towards the Lakes Reserve for some reason that remained unspecified. So I walked, past macrocarpa windbreaks and the fields of the Hammonds' farms (my friend Bobby's father Owen's land was contiguous with that of his brother, whose name I've forgotten). It was afternoon, the light bright and dark by turns. I don't know if it was cold or not. There was no traffic but that is not unusual in that very quiet part of the country. After a while I came to a line of three cottages on the other side of the road and crossed over to them. They were small and plain and, when I went around to the back of the first one and in the door, it was bare inside. Or rather, seemed to be: I looked up and saw that the spaces along the tops of the cupboards in the kitchen were packed with supplies. Bags of oranges, I recall, packets of pasta, tins of various fruits, vegetables and condiments. I had a sense of austere comfort in the small sitting room next door, worn but comfortable chairs pulled up before a hearth, a basket of kindling and pinecones beside the fireplace ... I think I was thinking of spending the night there, but this discovery (the supplies) made me reconsider. Perhaps the owners were coming up for the weekend? I went back outside and onto the road again. And then I remembered: the mountain! I looked up to where it should have been and there it was, a sombre miracle floating above its skirts of green. I felt ... some kind of completion. Home again. That was it.
I read chalked on the path in the local park. POO is written in even larger letters, twice, below this cryptic remark, and there are arrows pointing down to where kids in afterschool care at the community centre have been drawing big abstract portraits on the concrete near the play equipment.