Pricking my Bubble: a lockdown tale.


The rules were and are pretty clear: get in your bubble and stay in your bubble. So with the regular consumption of cake, chocolate and gardening – that’s what I’ve done. I’ve bubbled up.  

Bubbling has been accepted with seemingly good grace by the majority of our population who, in laid-back New Zealand style, have accepted the direction of authority. And if you didn’t and aren’t, one of us will have reported you to wherever it is we tell on people who aren’t doing as they’re told. We did it so fast and so much we crashed the website. We all want to live thank you.

We’ve expressed our feelings through creative entertainment or whining.

The creative entertainment which is permeating online is wonderful. I hope that after this hideous hiccup concludes many of those who’ve only now used their phone or camera to share their voice, humour, poetry, cooking skills, whatever, will occasionally do so again. You’ve all been fabulous.

And the whiners? Well, that’s part of our democratic tradition. It’s formally called dissent.

I haven’t had time to dissent about anything. If I have, you’ll have to refresh my memory. Much of the reason for the state of happiness around chez moi must relate to the help and support of my neighbours in bringing home the shopping and passing the time of day with me. And those who email me and ring to see either what I’m up to or if I’m dead.

I have to say life has been made incredibly bearable by the consumption of cake. I try not to bake or buy cake and biscuits because I eat them – rapidly.   I made a delicious apple cake that I thought would last at least two weeks – devoured in a couple of days. Same thing happened to an eggless, dairy free chocolate cake. I am amazed I can still get my work jeans to zip up.   I moved some more of the piles of uncut tree branches today to try to make up for my gluttony.

From the mechanical noise around me it’s fair to say that the general autumnal cleaning, tidying and preparation for winter is taking place. There’s been a steady drone of machinery.   I’ve been digging and planting. There’s plants in the new shelter and comfrey leaves in the small winter vegetable garden strip I’m making in front of the paddock fence.   It faces the sun and the soil still purrs with warmth in the winter.

When the wind and rain came the other day I started on “the garage”. It’s actually no longer a garage but a multi purpose storage and work space. Sounds good doesn’t it?   I have my boxes of stored supplies along one wall and then a line of furniture I’m either restoring, disposing of or thinking about disposing of. At the front of the line is an old washing machine – I did ring the metal person but you had to leave a message.   If I survive the scourge – that washing machine is definitely going. 

I love boxes and containers.   I use those stacking fruit boxes from the supermarket to hold all sorts of stuff – I put labels on them. I have boxes to take plants to the markets in. They are different sizes for different shapes and sizes of plants.   I have boxes to take the flower bunches to the market.   I have boxes to cut the flowers into. I have boxes to keep the bags I take to the market in.  I have so many boxes you’d think I had a cat who loves boxes.  

I also have a vintage trunk which in winter I use as a wood box. It’s the perfect size as it fits 3 banana boxes of kindling twigs neatly on one side and the chopped wood on the other.

I have vases and containers for flowers and plants. Plant food and labels and all sorts of saved plastic containers just in case I want to take a cutting (or two thousand).   I have old wicker baskets for flowers. I’ve managed to Condo them into two piles on top of a shelf. I have old enamel and iron ware. And I have two beautiful new containers Carolyne gave me by the door on the desk that used to be part of the receptionist’s area in the office. I don’t throw much away.    There’s a lot in this garage and the little room adjacent to it.

But I know where everything is.   So this morning when I opened the garage door and went over to my “hand tools” section and found the daffodil bulbs strewn over the floor and all the flower collection and twig kindling boxes leaning over and the beautiful turquoise paper carrier bag my neighbour gave me her apples in all squashed I think “someone’s been in here”.   I think they must need glasses because the little plastic bags with the change from the shopping are still on the floor.

I slowly (partly because of how much stuff is in the garage) walk around and have a look. In the aisle of the freezer and storage boxes (neatly labeled) I find someone has been smashing my dried honesty. Really, I only boxed that yesterday, or the day before.   Both the little grey mouse traps have gone off. But today there is no sign of a small grey corpse. All the shopping bags have been moved and trampled on.   I gingerly move towards them.

And them I see it, him, or her. A tightly coiled hedgehog ball sleeping on the sack tucked around the galvanized bucket holding the metal rose standard I use as my front door Christmas tree. Its right up against my storage boxes in classic hibernation pose.

I stand still and think. Was this the hedgehog I saw yesterday running across the grass in front of the gate to the paddock? Has this hedgehog been hibernating in the garage and I disturbed it with my pathetic attempts to tidy up? Why is this hedgehog in my garage on my Christmas tree?   I’d like to think it’s because of the times but I decide to leave the hedgehog where it is.

I come back several times during the day and look at the hedgehog. I make a noise which if the hedgehog was awake (or not dead) it would get up and leave the premises.   The hedgehog remains completely still and coiled in its hedgehog ball.   The third time I come back I think it’s moved – like a child in its sleep – I can see its face. But it’s still asleep.

I move some more tree branches. I rake the leaves out of the drain on the drive. I eat pumpkin gnocchi with homemade tomato sauce. I message Emily and tell her gnocchi are really like tiny dumplings in tomato sauce.

I dig some more comfrey into the winter vegetable garden. I use some of the old compost bags to protect the beautiful native seedlings I’ve transplanted into the shelter belt. I cut some more off the shrub where the gate into the paddock is going to go – it’s apparently Australian and won’t give in easily.   I look at the leaves the wind is ripping off accumulating on the cobblestones and decide they’ll wait until tomorrow. I water the plants growing on the ledge in front of the garage window.

I move the shopping Emily and Steph have brought me today into the little room off the garage and close the door – I can do that now I’ve tidied up. And I close the garage door, take off my work boots and gloves and leave the hedgehog asleep on my Christmas tree. 

But being my mother’s daughter I’m just going to go out now and turn the light on to make sure it, he, she is still asleep on top of the sack, on top of the bucket that holds my front door Christmas tree. 

And wouldn’t you know it; as I open the door from the house to the garage I hear the sounds of desperate scuffling and all the honesty seed heads I cut yesterday and put into the big cardboard box are moving. Logic and higher education tell me the hedgehog was not hibernating but sleeping (a very sound sleep I would have to say).

As soon as I turn on the light the scuffling stops – he’s no fool. I put on my Redbands – they make you feel strong. Open the garage door and go round to the now silent box. There is no hedgehog on the sack around my Christmas tree. It flashes through my mind this really is a hedgehog who can sleep through anything.

In one of those field of battle moments I decide to take the honesty out of the box. It’s heavy and I wonder if the hedgehog is going to come out with it.   But no, there in the bottom of this really tall box is the hedgehog.

I speak sternly to it. I tell it I’m going to take the box outside and I expect him (it’s definitely not a girl. What girl would get stuck in the bottom of a huge cardboard box in my garage and wreck my dried flowers) to go back into the garden and NOT come back into my garage EVER.   If you heard me talking to a box tonight – this is the explanation.

Speaking sternly to my visitor

I put the box on its side outside on the concrete. I again tell it’s occupant to leave the premises. I can’t flash the lights on and off like a 1970’s New Zealand pub at closing time but I’m picking the hedgehog is getting the idea.

I close the garage door. Before I close the door to the house I tell any other uninvited occupant of the garage to leave the premises. I close the door and come back to the very old computer on the trestle table in my bedroom and write.

I’ve done my best to stay in my bubble. But sometimes you just have no control over who is going to prick your bubble and enter your day.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

Here masked, goggled and gloved to go down to the chemist for a prescription.



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                BE SAFE AND HAPPY AND ENJOY!


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