I hugged the tree. Especially soppy. But I can explain it, it was a mountain cabbage. I had been grumpy that morning. A grumpy bastard. The others were long gone when I was wiggling my pants on trying to avoid the condensation on the roof of the tent. They had left the shelter a mess, as you do when the water is frozen. Ever tried wiping a frozen bench with a frozen cloth? And the camera was gone. Disaster. I had cursed then contemplated boredom, the empty campsite surrounded by bush in the lonely valley. It was mahi that settled the soul. Litter duty eased my troubles. I cached the gear, left a note and strode towards the mountain. My heart lifts with exercise and the mountain cabbage with its spiky hairdo lets down its defences in layers of old fronds.
They have found the missing link. It scythes across the valley side like a water race. Seemingly blasted from rock. Standing above precipices. It splashes through the river then twists up to the pylon on the other side. The trees grow now over the gorse. Mountain biking ecology. Plant natives around the tracks and help them last forever.
It is a place where couples hang-out. Wellingtons favourite romantic slightly adventurous sunset. We have been here many times before, and sat on the old gun emplacements. This time we walked further south towards the bay and sunk in the enormity of the windmills. They emphasise how poked things are. These stripped coastal hills struggle to regenerate. But they will. In 50 years time this land will be bush and we will take down some of these windmills. Those that intrude on our less garish aspects. And we will move on.