Well, the clocks have ticked back to expose one more hour of Kiwi daylight, at least until the pall of night stretches to gobble it up. On the approach to my second winter in Te Aroha there is something I truly dread. It’s something seemingly innocuous yet oh so lethal. Although we’re still just traipsing through autumn, I know this something is coming and that maybe talking about it will defuse its power. Maybe.
There are so many strikes against winter out here in the country that it’s hard to know which blow is the worst. The cold about to creep through both wall and bone is not it, though. After investing a fair chunk in proper insulation and perfecting the dance of heaters, blankets and wooly robes, the biting chill can be tamed with relative ease.
The morning fog that smothers my daily commute across to Hamilton isn’t even the worst of it. Thankfully the area’s livestock is well contained and the chances of ramming into beasts in the mist (short of hawks trawling for carrion) is slim to nil. Yes, the heightened awareness of my fellow drivers comes with torturously slow speeds, but I expect to survive my work-day trek, as boring as it is.
That being said, facing my trip across the Waikato in darkness (or on the edge of it) is a pretty big downer. When I get home from work I have no plans to muck around in the yard with a miner’s lamp on my head. Given the nights will also be damp and cold the house becomes a bit of a cozy cell during the week while we hope for kinder weather at its end. At least the loving company and creature comforts make our little Te Arohan Fortress of Solitude a snug oasis.
Despite its obvious benefits, I expect the incessant rain will get to be too much at times. It’s wicked watching the paddocks flanking the river vanish with each passing torrent, adding a bit of drama to our dank world. Perhaps there will be so much rainfall that the roads are blocked, power goes out… we’re stranded! Oh it’s not really likely, and nothing worth great dread. My resourceful man has a generator ready to go just in case the network breaks. He’s been conspiring against the elements here for years, so I have his strong shoulders to lean on.
I’ve unearthed the wintry duds, stashing away most of my t-shirts and shorts. It’s a sad milestone indeed as I also resign myself to losing most of the colour I struggled to capture during our challenging summer. I may just pop onto an area sunbed when I get desperate, especially since our only planned Winter escapes will take us even further South (note to self: rethink that for next year). The opportunity to shop for some new long-sleeve cuteness is somewhat of a silver lining in the wardrobe shift, plus summer’s fashions are just under the bed if I really feel the need for a visit.
Then there’s the sickening lack of Bank Holidays between early June and October. Who should I shake my fist at for putting that evil plan in place, forcing us to take paid leave to escape Winter’s abuse? You’d think there’d at least one token 3-day holiday mid-shiver to help us through. In the US there are a few minor holidays that break winter’s monotony, which I reckon are vital refsh breaths indeed. Alas there’s no such kindness for the inhabitants of Godzone. Oh well, we’ll be investing in a couple of sanity breaks that should keep us from snapping too easily.
So it isn’t the weather, the darkness, the flooding, the constant crud of work, or burying summer under my bed that gets me down the most during winter. It’s something altogether more simple, innocent you might say, but it’s not. It’s vicious and cruel and all powerful, I tell you.
It’s milk, eggs, tasty tasty cheese, butter, onion, bacon (or other such seasoned meat), salt, pepper and (gulp) Edmond’s Pancake and Pikelet Mix baked at 190°C for 40 arduous minutes. Yes, people, it’s the cursed Quick Quiche!
Also called “The Rainy Day Quiche”, it is both love and hate, bundled up as an orgasmic, edible letter bomb. It’s the antidote for our lonely country evenings when we’ve endured a long day sandwiched in damp darkness, but it is also a lead weight burrowing into my physical fortitude. It’s tummy crack, plain and simple, filling us with immediate gastrointestinal bliss then pulling the plug on our waste lines. As if this country’s adoration for comfort food wasn’t enough (I’m looking at you, pies), the Quick Quiche must be the devil’s seed, planted in the minds of the innocents at Edmond’s to grow in our stomachs and make us bloat blindly until our muffin top pops and the seams of our longs can no longer bear our gluttony.
Okay, so it’s food. And so what if the rest of New Zealand can hold it together during the winter months? It must be something in your damned genetics, like how Russians drink vodka out of a tap and live to be 100. I’m having a dickens of a time adapting to these carbolicious delights, or at least to moderate portions. I’m fascinated more and more each day by the Kiwi ability to scarf down heaps of chips with each meal and remain firm. How are you able to win the one-arm wrestling match with a slice of scrumptious evil?
Oh wait, maybe it’s because I can’t help but go at least three rounds with my nemesis. Each time I walk away it promises to be good to me, then bitch-slaps me from within my gut just as I can feel my love handles grip my belt. I’m weak, so very very weak, and this is why I fear the coming of the Quick Quiche.
Bring on your meanest storms, darkest nights, or blackest ice on my sleepy, pre-dawn commutes. You’re more than welcome to take up residency during this coming winter as long as you can promise to help keep this sinister “comfort food” at bay. I think I can, I know I can, I will survive this winter and my most dreaded of delights.
| Leif Wauters