step back

Taking a deliberately long route home, I came across a jauntily angled structure at the side of the road. From a distance, I thought it was a sculpture of some sort, an open air art installation, or a moment of unusual architecture, modern and self-conscious in the middle of windswept farmland.

It turned out to be a collapsed storage shed, toppled by the weather. The corrugated roof had simply fallen in, bending the walls in the process. It was unwanted and accidental, a storm victim waiting to be fixed, or demolished.

This is a coastline that struggles to hold onto people. Plenty leave, for the mountains or for the cities.

Those who stay take care of their gardens and their cattle. Isolated houses are sometimes guarded by thick bushes and stubborn trees, planted in the face of sea gusts. Even undergrowth that's pruned is warped by the prevailing wind. Everything bends in a predictable direction, slicked back, away from the beach.

Things can look meaningfully twisted out here, without meaning anything.

Earlier in the day, my girlfriend said that a distant mountain range reminded her of a dog we'd once looked after, its vast, brown flanks, ribs and folds of skin, shadows and ridge lines and valleys of fur.

I try to see the lakes here from as many angles as possible. Sometimes that involves driving down roads that aren't good for the car, or roads that end before you want them to, twisting down to single, cratered lanes between muddy trees. Once I've found a new angle from which to view the lake, I don't usually stay for very long. I soon go in search of another, hoping that might complete the set, or prove enough for one day.

Southland 180323