Martinborough moods a fest for the senses

A new day dawns over this small town of Martinborough in the Wairarapa. You feel the chill cool of a cloudless dawn; hear the sound of solitude in the quiet morning. The pale orange-yellow sun rises, stumbling into the sky.

Listen, as he is greeted by the chorus of twitters and tweets from the birds, joyously welcoming him into the day.

Step out and feel the gentle northwestern breeze, bringing a foretaste of the heat to come, caressing the early morning into life.

Curtains are opened and windows unlatched, as if the houses themselves are inhaling the fresh spirit of the new day. See now, the commuters, panic rising as they clamour for the cars. Hear the jingling of keys, doors being locked, unlocked, and relocked.

Engines shudder and shiver into life, and the bitter black fumes of their exhausts pollute the pure air. Inside houses, half-eaten breakfasts line the counters; somewhere a forgotten bottle of milk sits, waiting to curdle and leave the house's occupants with a nasty surprise when they return from work.

Morning passes; the sun settles; clouds are consigned to the fringes of the horizon. Now, in the dry heat of the day, people hang out their laundry to dry.

Feel the cool of the damp towel on your cheek; the faint smell of detergent leaching out of the fabric as the sun starts to dry them before they are even pegged up.

As the few stubborn surviving dewdrops are swept on to besandalled feet, cooling your toes, smell the freshness of the drying grass; the myriad gardens behind a hundred houses, their sweet scents captured and carried by the wind.

Now it is hot. You can feel the heat on your exposed skin, see the heat waves on the horizon, smell the dryness of the baked earth, hard as iron.

The curtains are drawn to blot out the friend that has become a nuisance, and a common whir begins in all the living-rooms in town, as fans and air conditioners are switched to full, reinforcements in the war against the heat of day.

A cyclist sets out into the day, braving the heat and unseen radiation. The sun of the South Wairarapa beats down upon helmeted head, and tiny beads of sweat are already breaking free on his forehead.

Smell the spiciness as he passes a row of macrocarpas. See the road, undulating into the distance, cresting and falling, on and on like a black sea.

He passes the houses, snatching glimpses of other people's lives as he goes on. A mother yells at her rampaging children; a truck, sat upon by a dog, rumbles off east towards a farm.

Hear music booming out on to the road from a house, see the old Fanta bottles lining the windowsills. A punching bag, burst open like a piata, dangles from a tree, waving at the overturned tricycle on the brown, hard lawn.

As he passes a caravan, the cyclist goes by half a world of street signs. Cork, Kansas, Venice, Suez.

Now you can hear the sound of cars rumbling down the main street, as the biker crosses over to the other side of the intersection. Near the century-old supermarket, a veranda provides a welcome respite from the overbearing sun.

The war memorials, tributes to the townsmen who fought and fell since the turn of the century, lie at the western and southern entrances, sedate but imposing. They feel cool, smooth and damp, marble and bluestone trimmed with moss.

Under the trees, leaves lie here and there, a ray of sun catching the crushed Coke can 3m from the garbage bin.

Though quiet now, in a few hours you can sit on the concrete bench, and see the people going to the pub; smell the vinegary food and strong wine from the restaurant across the road, hear the gossip of regulars and the chatter of diners.

It is late afternoon, on the cusp of evening. Feel that dry heat, turning from a red-hot lead weight to a warm, comfy blanket, slightly too hot, but relaxingly warm.

The laundry is in, baked dry. The towels feel hard and slightly rough; not a hint of moisture remains therein.

The day is winding down; miles away, in Wellington and Masterton, the commuters are finishing work, and getting into cars and on to trains to go home.

See the cars coming down the road, harsh sun glinting off windscreens and polished metal; smell the brief, black stink of exhaust as they pass.

Dinners cook, pots simmer, kettles boil, as people come in. Keys jingle, locks are locked, unlocked, relocked. Steaming cups of tea help them ease back at the end of another long day.

•  By Kieran Ireland; Year 12, East Otago High School

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