January 11, Waiheke
Standing at the top of a garden in my rented home in Rocky Bay, I hear shuffling to my right. I glance round and upward and see a tui, black and white-throated, eyeing me quizzically, head to one side, then the other. We gaze at each other for a few moments, and then she flies off, unsure of her safety. After all, I am a human being. My mind wanders back to the first time I returned back to normality. It was May 2009. I had an opportunity to speak at a conference in Sydney, Australia. I chose a route that would take me via Auckland, New Zealand. The people of New Zealand seemed just so normal and comfortable, grounded and genuine. This I discovered when flying from Los Angeles to London on Air New Zealand, several times. “You’re a man of the world,” echoed in my mind, recalling Fleetwood Mac’s similarly named song. Just prior to leaving for Sydney via Auckland, something compelled me conclusively to spend one night in Auckland. The conference in Sydney was dedicated to software, my wonderful working world of zero pollution; well almost. Sipping a glass of New Zealand wine at 37,000 feet, after a delicate dinner, I dozed off. Los Angeles already miles and years behind me; your presence in my mind – who you are we shall discover. Voices from the end of an immense hall echoed in my half-dream. Which stately home could this be? Chatsworth house, Townley Hall? A gentle tap roused my senses – we had two and a half hours left to Auckland and it was breakfast time. Breakfast time – so many lovely breakfasts in so many places; my favorite being in Acapulco with Norma … but that was yesterday. Gazing down through scattered clouds I spy New Zealand for the first time. Dark green verdance, touched by ocean’s caress – sometimes gentle, sometimes frenzied as in making love, and this was love I would discover anew. We touched down gracefully after gliding over ever closer greenness, and I began reminiscing of Britain, of birth. The people at my Auckland hotel were very kind. I arrived early and they kindly allowed my head to rest after close to 18 hours of staggered travel. New Zealand is truly a very kindly place.
“Where is a good place to visit?” I enquired after a short nap.
“We recommend Waiheke Island,” was the response. It sounded sort of Hawaiian to my uneducated knowledge of the locales. Walking is a pleasurable pursuit of mine so off I strode to the ferry terminal in Auckland. Ferries to Waiheke run hourly and I had a 35-minute wait. As I gazed around this wonderful waterfront I spied a little café called “Valentino’s” selling Italian ice creams and coffee. Now, my great grandfather Luigi Capagrossi was an ice cream artisan of some note. His masterpiece, a legend in our family, was ‘Hoke Poke’ flavor. So here I am on a lovely day in May, eating the ice cream of my heritage, Hoke Poke, and at that moment everything felt right and was to remain right. Sometime later you and I would sit right here – who are we? It was 20 years earlier that I began to live in Los Angeles after 41 years in England, however, Norma and I had been largely apart for about 5 years and life alone in Los Angeles was not fulfilling. It was lonely, yet in a perverse way and had been filled with artistic creativity. When time is available those with creative minds expand those opportune moments into masterpieces of individual intentiveness.
The ferry glided deftly through calm waters. Suddenly, it seemed, we were thronged by sailing boats – yachts of all shapes, sizes and styles. Sails filled with blown breezes ‘fore and aft,’ port and starboard. Was I in some sort of dream sequence? Could this serene, supreme calm hang over any country in our frenetic civilization? Waiheke presented itself directly ahead, appearing dark green, kissed by blue waters – a pirate paradise; Treasure Island. This was a tour day for me, vineyards, olive groves, food all only icing on the cake that is Waiheke, the tall, tiered, tumultuous cake that is Waiheke Island. This day, a seed lodged in my mind, fertilized by formed feelings. In the twilight years of my life I had found my home but could not yet live there because the prospect of severing 20 years of my life needed more time to endure and propagate.
Walking down from the studio at my rented home, I saw a solitary white rose. The tui flew over my head and I noticed there were fresh rain droplets on each leaf of the rose bush, glistening in the morning sun, peaking pleasantly through the grey and white clouds. Here on Waiheke Island I thought of my years in towns and cities, and realized that love drew me here also. The first was my love for incredible ladies, three of them in my 63 years on Earth. The love that drew me to Waiheke is different and dancing with deliverance. It is the love and acceptance of nature. I am surrounded by life because it lives nurtured by nature. I have made my city escape – it is my need at this time of my life.