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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 10 (February 1, 1930)


“Breathes there a man with soul so dead” who can resist the lure of summer? Can anyone turn a deaf ear to the call of the seagulls—to the lonely cry of the more-pork—to the joyous chirping of the cicada and the cry of the bell-bird from the green depths of the forest? Is it possible that any human being can close his eyes to the coolness of the trees, the blueness of the waters—the stretches of golden sand, the calm pale stars in the blackness of the heavens? At this time of the year our eyes ache at the sight of magnificent buildings—the sound of the tram car makes us shudder and the smell of hot asphalt and dusty offices fills us with disgust. Originally we belong to the forests and the “wide, open spaces” and always there is in our blood a wander-lust—an unquenchable craving for a closer contact with nature—with whom we fought so keenly in our early civilization—whom we have almost conquered—but for whom we still yearn as a child longs for its mother in the appalling blackness of a stormy night. Haven't you often felt a wild restlessness in your blood—a longing to cast off the trappings and conventions of society and to live once more in a rocky cave? True the cave would be much more comfortable with electric light and water laid on—in fact we should demand this—but what I really mean is that deep down in our hearts is a desire to be closer to nature. Perhaps once a year we can satisfy this hunger for two or three weeks. We may be doomed to spend eleven months in a tidy, busy office on the fifth floor of a cool, clean building—returning to a little house in a neat row of little houses—but for a brief while we may escape from this comfortable mediocracy and pitch our tent “far from the madding crowd” by some chattering, sobbing stream in the heart of our country's glorious bush—or on the rugged, wild coast. We will cook our meals round the camp fire—we will eat heaps of dirt, drink smoky tea, burn our hands, cut our feet, suffer countless mosquito bites, and sleep, God knows where—but how happy we will be! We will feel like a prisoner when the doors are flung open and the world and all that it means rushes before him. Of course we have to go back again to the city where Smith differs from Jones only in that he takes sugar in his tea whereas Jones does not—and of course we are contented enough while we are there. As a rule we are too busy to be otherwise—but sometimes when the sad moon smiles down upon the sleeping city and the roofs of the closely-packed houses shine in the soft whiteness of her light—we feel a longing to be away from it all—out under the stars.

We pitch our tent beneath the friendly trees—we have a serious and prolonged discussion as to the best place for it—we finally come to a decision, and hey presto! there is our little home—cosy and inviting with our bed of piled-up manuka waiting to receive our weary limbs. We cook weird and wonderful things. A delicious fragrance mounts up to the night—the moths flutter round our fire—the ‘possums peer down—attracted by the smell and the sight of these queer creatures squatting round the warmth. Then we all light cigarettes and lie in the glow of the fire—talking softly while the owls cry in the distance and the winds rustle leaves overhead. This is the life!

The Young Engineer. “Who can foretell for what high cause, this darling of the gods was born?”

The Young Engineer.
“Who can foretell for what high cause, this darling of the gods was born?”