Jandals-and-jackets weather so baffling
The rain is hammering down and Motropolis could be renamed schizopolis.
With a series of fronts roiling the summer, the streets of Motropolis are filled with signs of split-personality holidaymakers, unsure whether to slap on the sunblock or a parka.
The tourists have inherited their confusion from the weather gods, who have spent the past week alternately frowning and smiling down on the South Island's favourite holiday region, often at the same time.
On Thursday I was reporting at the Miss Kaiteriteri competition, an anachronism which has hung on for at least 50 years. Overcast skies lowered the attendance and raised some goosebumps for the entrants but, had it been held on Friday morning rather than Thursday, it would have slipped down the food chain from seaside beauty pageant to wet T-shirt contest.
In the time between writing the first sentence and this one, the rain has stopped and the sun has come out.
My own weather confusion is evident in my clothes. It was bucketing down when I got dressed and, since my sneakers have developed holes, I opted for jandals, figuring occasional wet feet was preferable to sodden socks all day. I went back and forth on the shorts-vs-jeans question, settling on shorts, but added a heavy sweatshirt for torso warmth. I felt like a dork leaving the house but a quick stroll down High St vindicated my choices: jandals and fleece seemed to be the outfit of the day.
Walking to the movies in Nelson on New Year's Day, I played a game of leaping puddles and avoiding drips with the smallest suspect and, at 1pm on what should have been one of the region's biggest picnic days, the cinema was packed.
It was a reminder that, although we think of the rain at the peak of the holiday as a curse, it can be a boon for some businesses.
Fairfax reported that "box office takings were 26 per cent higher over the Christmas weekend than the year before as Kiwis flocked to the movies to escape the rain" and December's overall box office was up 9 per cent over last year. In Motueka the video rental outfits are humming and the cafes are full of bedraggled refugees from Kaiteriteri. The searching look in their eyes as they scan around for something to do indoors recalled a depressing conversation I overheard a few summers ago in similar weather.
"Where are we going?" a young girl asked her mother as they dodged puddles in High St. "Back to The Warehouse." I figured they were after umbrellas.
Now the sun, which a few minutes ago was raising steam from the pavement, has vanished again. Ominous storm clouds have blackened the sky.
On Thursday, after my Kaiteriteri day of bikinis and goosebumps, I took the small suspects for a swim at the community pool. It was the first time we had had the pool to ourselves all summer but, as I relished the experience of diving into an empty glass-like pool, it became clear why. The dip was refreshing at best and I hurried through 20 laps in an effort to develop some body warmth.
Conversations with visiting rellies have included the best method for packing up a tent in the rain (there is none, we agreed) and which local wineries have indoor seating for lunch (Seifried's got the nod and as well as being the recipient of a rave review, I got to share a bottle of Sweet Agnes Riesling, a rainy-day boon indeed).
Outside, a long stream of campervans and cars packed with kids are heading south down High St, escaping the beaches and heading for drier pursuits (there is a limit to how much Trivial Pursuit can be played in one tent). I can gauge the weather at Kaiteriteri by seeing whether the snake of traffic in High St is southbound, away from the beach, or northbound as Nelsonians invade.
Here in Motropolis, we avoid Kaiteriteri at this time of the year. It is our playground from February to November and one we graciously share with outsiders (by which I mean flee screaming) for a few weeks at the height of summer.
I visit only for work and, when I do, it appears as if an entire suburb of Christchurch has been transplanted north. Any other time of the year, I will know half the people on the beach but I search in vain for a familiar face on what I now call Sumner North.
It is raining again. Man plans, God laughs. Will my plans for Saturday include Black Caps cricket at Saxton Field or a Monopolyathon inside at home? Your guess is as good as mine and probably just as accurate as the MetService's. Maybe I'll see you at the cricket. Bring your brolly.