A few days before what has been described by friends as my wedding day sans man, I received a parcel in the mail. The stamps and post mark said Germany but when I opened it the first thing I found was a post card from the Louvre.
On the back was written:
Best wishes on your "Book" release.
The only way is Up!!
Thought of you when I saw this original at the Louvre.
Kindest regards to you and your family.
There was no return address and I couldn't decipher the single letter signature. It's been driving me nuts. They also sent me a photograph of a highland cow whose horns look like they've been twisted as a sideshow lark. Then there was the tea towel, bought from the Scotland Tourism Centre.
I don't know who sent me this beautiful package of goodies from Europe. Someone who has moved between Scotland and Germany, who was in Skye in mid September, who still prints photographs and writes words with quotation marks around them ... that is all I have.
The same day I received an email from Elizabeth Drummond. Apparently she is my 42nd cousin (Or maybe 52nd.) She detailed the history of my forefathers (foremothers being absent, as is the way unless they are birthing someone important) as being salmon fishers, mariners and light house keepers off the Scottish coast of Appin. She'd happened to run into 007 with whom I play scrabble every week. 007 has been in New Zealand to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the NZ Herald and being an ex journo from that rag, felt he simply must attend that raucous party and forgo his best mate's book launch. Elizabeth Drummond heard him talking about my book and her ears pricked up. He gave her a copy. And so she sent me an email.
Then Jan from Centrelink rang me. "We are doing random reviews and you've been chosen to participate! All you need to do is be present when I come down from the city to interview you."
"Oh joy! But I won't be here unfortunately. I'll be in the city."
(This whole conversation is too convoluted to detail here. Suffice it to say that I went into the office and spent 90 minutes on the phone to Jan, the day before my book launch, answering her questions, waiting for her to send faxes through to Albany folk who were too busy schmoozing or dealing with client's crying babies to print them off, and long periods of playing Word With Friends on my mobile phone, while I deeply suspect she went out to lunch.)
And then ... I drove home and had a shower. Washed the day from me. Stepped out into the hallway, towards the front door. On the thresh hold sat a stunned and dehydrated mutton bird chick, its feathers all sooty and fluffy.
I picked it up and felt its bleating heart against my palms. It didn't bite me. A sea bird it was and its webbed feet paddled against my forearms.
A moonbird on my doorstep, it's internal barometer thrown, miles from home, blown over from Sandpatch in a year when the Easterlies have roared in early. Starving for whitebait and water. I'm just glad I found it before the dog did.