mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 17: Spring 1996

Harry Ricketts — Thirteen Ways of Starting a New Zealand Novel Called Macrocarpa

page 86

Harry Ricketts

Thirteen Ways of Starting a New Zealand Novel Called Macrocarpa

‘Monterey Cypress (Cupressus Macrocarpa) has dark blue-green foliage without glandular pits; woody cones 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. It grows 20 to 78 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in diameter, with dark-brown to light-grey, scaly, ridged bark. In the Monterey Bay region of California this picturesque tree occurs on rocky headlands where it is often misshapen by the buffeting of high winds. Old trees have broad, flat-topped crowns with stout branches. Crowns of young trees growing in sheltered places are narrower, bushy, and pyramidal. This tree is extensively planed as an ornamental, or for a windbreak.’ A Field Guide to the Major Native and Introduced Species North of Mexico: Trees of North America(New York: Golden Press,[revised edition] 1986) by C. Frank Brockman, Professor of Forestry Emeritus, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington.

  • 1 My earliest memory is of lying in my cot, my mother's bright face bending over me, framed in a black aureole by the ornamental macrocarpa.
  • 2 Morning mist drifts above the broad, flat-topped crowns of the macrocarpas like gunsmoke.
  • 3 That March when Wayne returned to the old homestead, he remarked for the first time the way the young macrocarpa cast its narrow, pyramidal shadow across the rotting pink hydrangeas.
  • 4 Wally the Giant Weta was born in a pile of woody cones beside the seventy-eight foot tall macrocarpa.
  • 5 I do not know much about trees; but I think that the macrocarpa has a dark blue-green voice.
  • 6 Hidden in the stout branches of the macrocarpa, buffeted by high winds, sat Cheryl, the rabbiter's seventh daughter, biting her 87
  • 7 Beryl clasped the trunk of the macrocarpa, feeling the light-grey, scaly bark press against her breast, and wondered if anyone would ever ask her to find his stick.
  • 8 ‘Macrocarpa, Monterey Cypress, Cupressus Macrocarpa,’ mused Inspector Motz that afternoon, recalling Prof Brockman's lectures on arboreal forensics, ‘but how to explain the glandular pits in the foliage and could these be connected in any way with the vegemite stains on Cheryl Alabaster's prizewinning budgie?’
  • 9 Leaning against the knotty strength of a young macrocarpa in the shelter of Granny Hohepa's windbreak, Rangi felt the hot noonday sun beat upon his bare limbs and felt that it was good.
  • 10 ‘Women!’ spat Bill, kicking vehemently at the pile of woody cones; ‘at least you know where you are with a macrocarpa.’
  • 11 The hairs on Colin's neck began to rise; alone on the rocky headland, dusk falling all around him, he had distinctly heard someone whisper his name; the old misshapen macrocarpa couldn't have spoken, could it?
  • 12 ‘O macrocarpa!’ exclaimed Wayne, beating his forehead against the ridged bark, ‘What am I going to do about Cheryl?’
  • 13 ‘The white budgie!’ screamed Ed, as the moon burst over the horizon and he opened the throttle of his 750cc Norton, the wind whipping the long, blond hair across his face and he saw with blinding clarity that the way up and the way down were one and the same, a 6 was merely a 9 reversed and Zen backwards was the French for nose and all at once there he was gazing up at Miss Moir's oval face, trying to remember the first person plural of the imperfect subjunctive of baiser, and had he known then as he knew now the colour of the sound made by one hand clapping was a dark blue-green, he might never have read Steppenwolf and run away to that ashram in Kathmandu and have there been vouchsafed the vision of the white budgie and would not now be rushing towards this consummation with the dark-brown, scaly, ridged bark of the three to four feet in diameter trunk of the rapidly approaching macrocarpa.