Early this month, there was a serious earthquake on Te Waka-a-Maui, the South Island of New Zealand. One person died from cardiac arrest in the 7.1 magnitude tremor. Damage to the city of Christchurch and the region was extensive.
Though Auckland is 650 miles away on the North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) I knew exactly what those people were going through and my heart went out to them.
It was a terrible day. I found out my supermarket no longer sold Wattie’s reduced-fat, low-salt Vienna sausages at two cans for the price of one. “Why god?” I screamed. “Why do you let such terrible things happen?”
The manager came over to see what the fuss was about. Of course, this forced me to exchange a few unpleasant words with her. The whole experience was so distasteful that I now suffer PTSD because of it.
Anywhoodles, the Canterbury Earthquake, as the tremor has been dubbed, was the eighth most powerful to hit New Zealand in modern history. I’m not likely to forget it any time soon because my brother-in-law told me a funny Holocaust joke that day.
He’d heard it from a German comedian whose name I can’t remember. Probably not Adolph, times being as they are.
I remember feeling bad about us being too flippant in light of tragedy. Sure, the Holocaust was a long time ago, but some people haven’t gotten over it yet.
Just then, the TV flashed a telephone number for us to call if we wanted to help out with the earthquake relief effort.
I wanted to help, nay I was compelled to help.
Operator: Relief hotline.
Me: I want to help, nay I’m compelled to help. You’re not getting my money. And I hate needles so if it’s blood you’re after, you’d better find yourself another stooge.
Operator: Do you have any clothes?
Me: You can have my old pleated khakis. But only as an anonymous gift. I won’t be known as the guy who gave pleated pants. Just because I’m generous doesn’t mean I have to come out looking like a chump, you know what I’m saying?
Me: What I really want to donate is a special gift: the gift of laughter.
Me: You know, the gift of humor. You like Holocaust jokes, right?
Operator: I’m not sure–
Me: Sure you do. I’ll tell you one and then you can spread it. Share it with as many earthquake survivors you want. Or Holocaust survivors for that matter. But really, if there’s some guy trapped under some rubble and they’re not going to be able to dig him out for a few days, what better way to cheer him up? Only, he probably shouldn’t laugh too much because of the oxygen situation but you’ll figure it out.
Me: Come on. Laughter is the best medicine. So here goes. My grandfather died in the Holocaust…yeah, he fell from a guard-tower at Auschwitz.
I’ll never know where my gift of humor ended up because somehow the telephone line was cut off, probably due to one of the Canterbury Quake’s hundreds of aftershocks.
But from that day on, I was filled with love for all living creatures. Sheep, specifically. September is lambing season so the sheep get all up in your face and the fields are dewey and red with discarded placentas and the hills and paddocks are alive with the sound of little hooves squishing said placentas.
There’s been trouble, though. The news has reported that this has been such a cloudy, rainy spring (which in NZ officially begins Sept. 1, three weeks before the equinox). Consequently, the lambs aren’t getting enough sunshine and many are dying, ostensibly from being wet and cold. (Welcome to New Zealand).
So, Jacquie and I went to One Tree Hill last week to see the poor creatures. I mean, what a tragedy, lambs dying before anyone got a chance to eat them.
And now for a random selection of recent photographs. (Note to Matt E…I will post a couple pictures you took soon. Your work was not in vain!)