Sunday, February 18, 2007

A room full of thistles


There was a character in (I think, it was a long time ago) Crime and Punishment who worried that it might not be worth becoming a good and pious man and ascending to heaven after death: what if, after all that hard work and self-abnegation, heaven turned out to be nothing but a room filled with cobwebs?

Motukaraka Island lies like a dream off the southeast coast of Auckland, oblivious to the steady ugly sprawl of concrete and mortar mortgagee suburbs with pastoral names like Botany Downs. The island is flat and ringed with big pohutakawa trees, so that its interior can't be seen from the coast. I'd always imagined a heaven of long wavy grass, tall native trees dotted around strategically for shade, and the odd gas-fired barbecue.

Alas, after a long lowtide walk across hot shells and slippery mudflats, Motukaraka was found to consist of head-high, leering, purple-eyed thistles and impenetrable shrubs. Bring your own machete, and leave a trail of crumbs.

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