“When in sync with each other,
there's no need for a leader.”
'Hey Tane, the house looks great,' said Tahara.
'Cool, thanks, just the electrics and the plumbing to go and I'm all done,' said Tane.
'How can I help? I know nothing about building,' said Tahara.
'You'll be a great help. I'm going to have my hands full so you can be an extra pair of hands. To start with can you get me a sandwich? The kitchen's through there.'
Tane's head is buried in the communication station. Tahara can't see if he's serious. She goes anyway thinking, get your own sandwich. When she gets there she's surprised to see lunch for two is set up on the table.
'It's lunch time, we can get to work after we've eaten,' said Tane, having followed her into the kitchen. 'You hungry?'
Tahara smiles and they sit down and start eating a lunch which obviously has taken some time to prepare. If Tane wasn't a builder he would like to be a chef but he loves working outdoors.
'So tell me,' said Tane. 'What do you plan to do when you get to the Sahara?'
'I plan to work on growing the environment needed to reintroduce fish to The Sahara Lakes.' said Tahara. 'At the moment the lakes are just water catchments for reforestation, but soon they're going to be turned into living lakes.'
'Don't you work in ocean environment?' said Tane.
'They're quite similar,' said Tahara. 'And I've studied all aquatic ecosystems. I plan to join the teams at the lakes and work our way down the rivers to the sea. Other teams are already growing mangroves where the river mouths will be.'
The summer solstice festival is a celebration of life with all the best acts around. This year it's being held in Orewa. The four towns in the region take turns to hold the three day festival. This way it attracts up to eight thousand people. There are separate areas for different age groups, making the event suitable for everyone. The winter solstice is just a one day festival celebrating death. It sounds a bit morbid but it's not, it's about renewal, the cycle of life and the promise of spring to come.
Even though it's only one kilometre away from Tahara's home, she brings her tent to camp, getting into the spirit of it. In the tent next to hers is a guy called Alex who is from Australia and has just finished his travels in New Zealand. Tahara and Tane decide to travel with him on his way back home.
The day after the festival the three of them set off together on their bikes to Parakai, a town on the Kaipara harbour just a hour west of Orewa, where they board the boat for the one to two week, depending on the wind, trip to Australia.
First night in Australia after a full day cycling in the cycleway, Tahara, Tane and Alex decide to camp in the forest. It's summer and the sky is clear and calm so they don't even bother to put up their tents. After nine days cooped up on a boat sailing across the Tasman they want to enjoy the nature. They plan to camp most nights, only staying in town every few days to clean up, restock and socialise.
The Australian deserts are all gone. At first it was thought it would take longer to reforest Australia but with all the rain from the ice caps melting and all the work to take advantage of the rain with water catchments and reforestation projects.
The land recovered quite quickly, almost back to how it was fifty or sixty thousand years ago before people arrived with fire.
“Lighting up the night, we robbed ourselves
of the stars and the moon and the dark.”
Tahara, Tane and Alex are worn out after their second full day cycling on their fully loaded bikes. They took the fast cycleway again today and covered a lot of ground. They've decided to mix up their travels between fast travel when they want to make up some ground and slow travel when they want to explore and hang out when they get to places they're interested in.
They plan to fast travel for at least the first week to get some distance behind them, before taking the slow path when they get close to Uluru. They like the idea of arriving at Uluru under their own steam.
Alex lives in the Pilbara, and wants to get home soon, so he's happy to travel quickly. Tahara and Tane would like to see more of southern Australia but that will have to wait as Tahara is impatient to get to the Sahara and start work and Tane wants to get to northern Australia where some houses have been grown out of baobab trees. Tahara though impatient still knows it would be foolish to rush all the time with so much to see on the way.
'Just stay still,' said Alex. 'Snakes are only dangerous when they feel threatened.'
The three of them are lying in a clearing on a ground sheet a few metres from the Murrumbidgee River. A two metre long snake is casually moving along the river's edge heading for the bush on the other side of the clearing.
'This is so cool,' said Alex. You don't get to see snakes that often, they hear you coming and hide. It's only because we're just lying here that it's not aware of us.'
'It's only because we're stoned,' said Tane, who brought some weed with him from home.
It's late in the afternoon. Alex is preparing dinner in the solar cooker. Tahara and Tane are buzzing about the snake. There aren't any snakes in New Zealand so it's the first time they've ever seen one.
'Dinner's ready,' said Alex.
They eat their dinner in silence, listening to the birds singing their evening song. After dinner they wash up and bathe in the river before laying out their bed rolls and stringing up their mozzie nets before it gets too dark. Tane lights up another joint when two people walk into the clearing.
'Hello, I'm Tom and I'm Sara,' said the visitors, smiling and waving.
'Hi, I'm Tane and this is Tahara and Alex. Do you smoke?' said Tane, holding the joint out to Tom.
'My timing is as usual impeccable,' said Tom, smiling, taking the joint and a long drag before passing it to Sara.
'Sit down and join us if you like,' said Tahara.
Tom and Sara put down their day bags and Tom carefully places his guitar on top of them. By now the joint has done the round and Tom takes another couple of puffs.
'We just saw a snake, a big one, first time I've ever seen a snake. It was so cool.' said Tahara.
'What did it look like?' Sara asks Tahara.
'Mostly black and yellowish near its head and about two metres long.'
'That's a common copperhead,' said Sara. 'Poisonous but not dangerous. They're quite common around here. As long as you leave them alone they won't bite.'
'Are you locals?' said Alex.
'Yes, we like to come here and sit by the river.' said Sara.
'And play music,' Tom finishes for her.
'Don't let us stop you,' said Tane.
“You know things are wrong
when the singer is bigger than the song.”
Sara pulls out a ukulele and plays a little ditty. When she's finished Tahara, Tane and Alex applaud.
The atmosphere is now free of pollution and dust and without city lights the night sky is as spectacular as it was over one hundred thousand years ago. The sun has set and the first stars are coming out when Tane spots a massive shooting star.
'Wow look,' he says.
They all turn to look as it breaks up into fire balls.
'I've never seen a shooting star like that before.' said Tane.
Everyone is sitting there spellbound when Tom picks up his guitar saying, 'A fitting start to the show,' he starts playing and singing a song about the universal patterns of nature.
'Tom,' said Tahara, after he has finished. 'Is it OK to ask what some words in that song mean?'
'Sure, fire away, though sometimes words come to me and I have no idea what they mean.'
'Looking good in purple, five plus five equals square and circle,' said Tahara. 'I know square and circle are about duality but what's five plus five and purple mean?'
'It's an example of how universal patterns manifest in our creative expression. Numbers and letters aren't just arbitrary shapes. The number 5 is half square and half circle, added together is the number 10. So one is a square and zero is a circle, and red and blue is purple. The square must be masculine, you know, all hard edges and all and the circle must be feminine. I'm guessing the square is red and the circle is blue and together they are purple.'
'Thanks,' said Tahara. 'What about the sky burning blue?'
Tom and Sara are professional musicians, as in their main contribution to society is to provide entertainment in the form of music. That doesn't mean all they do is play music.
Tom is also very skilled at making musical instruments. String instruments mostly but also drums and wood flutes. Wood is his choice of material. He works with the foresters who plant and care for the trees. He also works with the engineers who make and care for the machinery and the tools he needs.
Sara is also a music teacher. She gives classes at the education part of town. Both Tom and Sara like everyone else work on their own family garden and of course at their own family home cooking and cleaning.
No one has servants so ones occupation rarely takes up more time than half of the working day. On average most people spend half their workday on family and half on community.
Everyone is connected on the Internet but no one can get famous because everyone is able to get really good at what they like to do, so no one can stand out.
There are no longer celebrities. People still have their favourite bands and writers from all over the world and occasionally a certain song or book will become well known but the culture of fame has gone.
Putting it bluntly, everyone is forgotten. Which is in reality how it's always been. It's just now no one is pretending or wanting otherwise.
Big touring stage productions and big movies are no more but small scale theatre and movies are thriving.
Now when you see a movie or a play, you're likely to know the people on the screen or stage. Computer graphics have come a long way so just a handful of people are able to make a movie that has all the same production values as what used to take thousands of people to accomplish.