Goats in boats and the prehistoric Coelacanth-Tuesday January 31st 2012

The Tuesday Poem

Hello. Well I am still back in my old stamping ground of Pohara, Golden Bay. Long walks on the beach, punctuated by the delight of catching up with old friends.

Being here is always nostalgic for me. We first moved here when my oldest was only nine months old and I am staying just down the road from the delightful old gabled house where we lived, which at the time was surrounded by paddocks in which we kept goats.

Things haven’t really changed that much in Pohara; a scatter of expensive houses on the hills, new cabins at the camp, several new cafes… I have met up with a horse who lived next door to us all those years ago. He is now 32 years old. His owner, who wasn’t too fond of our goats..on account of his trees 😉 rather diffidently explained that he was now a goat convert and regaled me with the story of the rescue of said goats, from the flood. Imagine, if you will, 16 goats in a boat with the one sheep, who refused to get in, swimming along behind.

Rather sad that the road which passes through here to Totoranui has been so damaged it might not be available for several years or more and there is a lot of scarring on the hills from the December rains. As in Nelson some have lost homes, or had severe damage. But it is a beautiful place to be. And one of the nicest beaches in NZ.

I notice on my daily walk that now that the little darlings are getting ready for school, the number of sand castles has decreased and also the large holes in strange places! Maybe the diggers have already reached China and will emerge to start the school year in Beijing!

I regard the beach as my own personal playground.  And there are always new toys just for me, especially on the days when the tide has just receded leaving a marvellous collection of shells driftwood, the odd shark draped across a log and the occasional precious Kauri snail shells.

Time to  introduce you to Barbara Strang, a poet friend from Christchurch ..who was staying in Nelson and came over for a visit. After a luscious lunch at the ‘Wholemeal’ and a catchup with another Christchurch poet Elizabeth Robertson, I introduced Barbara to Pohara. However not for her, the calm cerulean sea…a gale had blown up.  We struggled along the beach like early Antarctic explorers.

Barbara has given me permission to share this poem from her latest book. It is called, appropriately, Surviving. I particularly like the introduction of the Coelacanth. (See photo link at bottom of page.) And check the address below for information about Barbara and her latest book.



The Coelacanth is an ugly fish

and rather slow;

the size of a human.

It flourished two hundred

million years ago,

so was thought extinct

lately two small populations

have been found alive, in lava caves

beneath the Indian Ocean.

It is cobalt blue.


My aunt aged ninety-five

stands close to the wall

in case of a fall.

Her bones are fragile,

her skin like paper,

she reads the morning news

with a magnifying glass.

‘I used to love walking,’

she says, and tells us how

she’d run around

her grandma’s home

ninety years ago.

(c) Barbara Strang

Please see site below for a wonderful image and more info about the Coelacanth!


until next time adieu 🙂

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