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How come everyone is just so damn happy? Maggie, Gerald and Roger.

Roger's birthday celebrations at Totaranui

Maybe this type of gathering might happen in Australia but I certainly never experienced it — a group of 24 people, aged 50 to 73, camping out for a night or two, in this instance at Totaranui, despite the initial entirely inclement weather. Not in the full-on home-away-from-home-style, just the essentials, minimal-style. Plus a good supply of home prepared food, including wild venison and pork that just been harvested close to home, homegrown veggies, healthy breads of all persuasions, a magnificent healthy living feast.

Maybe the basic level of the accommodation was not so surprising, ie, bring your own tent and sleeping bag, us Kiwis are a rugged lot, what was a surprise, at least to me, was the total lack of interest in any screen interface. I mean, that’s almost unnatural in 2014.

Instead there was the full realisation that this moment, in this place, was what was important. This is where people wanted to be, nothing else was more important in their lives than this instance. What’s right in front of my face, personal communication between a group of people who don’t necessarily know everybody in attendance, just an agglomeration of the closest friends of the birthday boy, Roger. Everyone appreciative and ready to make the most of this circumstance.

Smiling, happy, interesting people, some with a passion about white water rowing, well, up to Grade 3. Yes, rowing tiny dinghies in fiercely moving water. And if not boats, something equally passionate. Some going for regular swims, despite it still not officially designated summer, that water is chilly. Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the warmer climates around Australia in recent years.

A totally re-invigorating experience, all packed into a 30 hour period. Guess that’s what I was looking for by returning here to the roots, what was once a rare touch of reality taking precedence in people’s lives, maybe, I hope, this is the new normal.

For more images of this event look at this 20 image popup slideshow by clicking on the click thingy.

Sadly my camera was still waterlogged following my Milford experience, hence the milky nature of some of these images.

Roger's birthday at Totaranui November 2014
author | GJ Coop | posted | 25 November 2014
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