I didn’t even see it in the failing light of dusk. Linzay and I had been hiking the steep San-Francisco like hills around Queenstown for most of the day. I was trying to find impossible hidden kiwi house numbers, 12, 13, 40,55.
“I thought those things where only pets!” Linzay squeeked. I stopped counting for exactly long enough to see what she was pointing at. There in the grass, snooping around is this thing-
The feeling was familiar from kicking around Australia. The feeling when you see a colorful parrot, that you are certain is an escapee from the zoo or a rich persons house. It is the striking realization that the animal isn’t out of place but I am.
So there it was, a freaking wild hedgehog in all its fury and glory. Illuminated on the sunset, jagged mountain peak backdrop. Just hanging out sniffing grass. Suddenly, I imagine tourists visiting Canada or Oregon. “Stop the car, stop the car I gotta take a picture of that thing!” They would yell at the guy with the Garmin in the front seat. Zoom lenses would be unleashed in a barrage of clicks from Cannons. A squirrel picking through the grass for nuts is wondering what the big deal is. And then theres me. Taking pictures of freaking hedgehogs.
The woman at the end of the hallway is talking through a box of amplified bees shaken in a tin can. Her voice pops, hisses and snaps through the poor PA system, like a crappy old record you found on the street and tried to play on your dads player. Your dad got pissed and broke that record in half, reminding you never to play dirty vinyl or disco on his machine again. Good advice. She sits at the end of a sunny and packed airport terminal hallway, both of which are odd for this time of year. The desk she skips and pops from says United on it.
Linzay and I sit dazed from the past couple of days. The wedding ring on my finger still feels strange, like the sunlight pouring through the skylight windows. Her eyes are slightly puffy from goodbyes, but radiant nonetheless. It’s always easier to leave when it’s raining. With blank stares we sit stupidly, slouched in tidy leather seats. I watch the people rush to and from the counter. Later we would learn that we should have been those people, but we were busy gazing. How embarrassing it is to miss the first flight of a trip we so deftly prepared for. With a little pleading, shuffling and “wedding” dropping we were able to reschedule, making it all work out fine. No matter the amount of time set aside for travel it shouldn’t be taken for granted. More good advice.