Petal and Me.

As it is currently the quiet season holiday wise in our sea-side village, I responded to a flyer seeking delivery persons in our local area. A few weeks passed before the coordinator phoned back with an opening.
On a sunny day, this is a very pleasant and productive way to fill in a few hours, allowing your mind to open for thoughts to drift in, swirl around a bit and sometimes, concrete ideas result and occasionally the bones for a story is cemented. At other times, it is just about getting the job done.

Petal and Me.
I am developing a strong fondness for easily accessible letter boxes. Letter boxes that by their very generous size, welcome thick bundles of circulars and local rags (free community newspapers) with open arms. Letterboxes not hidden behind nasty vegetation or stuffed fill with uncollected said circulars and newspapers from previous deliveries. Or letterboxes so poorly designed that they fail the test for being respectable receptacles for any form of mail other than skinny letters.
Recently, I begun delivering local newspapers and circulars, crudely referred to as Junk Mail, in my area. My intention in pounding the pavements and delivering this mail is not for the remuneration received, believe me! Rather than being a get rich program, it is my get fit program. Pushing a pushchair – I call her Petal as she is rather fragile – with circulars in her seat and newspapers in a cloth bag swinging on her handles, affords me a muscular and cardio workout without having to pay an exorbitant gym fee. Unfortunately, Petal is prone to collapsing backwards when there is a discrepancy in weight distribution. When this inconvenient interruption happens, I scramble around the ground retrieving the spilt papers.
As I wander the streets, I conduct research, mentally recording what plants flourish in the mainly sand based soils here in Mangawhai. Deplete of thriving vegetation, my new garden needs a massive planting bonanza. I promise myself that once I have saved enough from my newspaper job – maybe by mid 2022 – my garden will receive a much needed upgrade.
The variety of garden installations provides an interesting distraction as Petal and I wind our way around the streets. There is an abundance of stone carvings, proving them to be a popular choice, followed closely by corrugated iron animals and chunks of wood with swirly designs, anchored in the soil. Spotted toadstools, gnomes and smartly painted pukeko’s feature in other gardens. Fat round Budha’s preside over many patches of vegetation or miniature ponds.
My personal favourite, a stone head, reminiscent of the famous Easter Island moai’s, sits proudly on a small mound, over looking the estuary. My least favourite, a large concrete German Shepherd sits to the side of a driveway. Every time I approach it, I am freaked-out, fearing that one day that lump of concrete will come to life!
Thus said, for originality and grandeur, I smugly believe that none of the afore mentioned equal my Chinese terracotta warrior in my garden.
On the downside, my fitness regime, involves dodging showers of rain and being startled by dogs who seem to know when I am in automatic mode and my mind has wandered elsewhere. While I absently poke a bundle of circulars and papers into a letterbox attached to a fence, the dog, hidden behind a fence, abruptly begins a repertoire of raucous barking. Startled, the bundle of circulars slip from my hand, often landing in a puddle.
On my first day, when a stocky little blighter of mixed breeds leapt the fence and circled me and Petal, lips curled back in a mean snarl, I screamed loudly. The owner came running.
“Oh,” she says. “No need to be alarmed. She’s just protecting her territory. She is actually very friendly.”
I do not classify a snarling dog as being friendly. With a degree of relief, this morning I saw the owner walking that dog, or I should say, the dog walking the owner! Friendly indeed.
Onto puddle obstacles. Imagine a large murky puddle, the size of a minor lake, at the base of a row of four letterboxes. The agility required to stretch across the obstructive puddle whilst maintaining your balance to insert your droppings into the mouth of each box, is of gymnastic-al equipoise.
My round finished and Petal folded in half, perched in the passenger seat, I drive homeward. As I congratulate myself for completing another cardio workout, visions of the generous slice of Devil’s chocolate cake awaiting me, flashes through my mind. I lick my lips in greedy anticipation!

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