The lichen clinging to Dominion Road's footpath has a colour that I cannot name. It is pale anaemic blood splatter, little patches of not-quite life that are not-quite green, the almost-colour of an almost-plant.
KFC glows red on one corner, golden arches glare at me from another, and I wonder: How long would it take for Tane to claim back this city for the forest? For the lichen to become moss, moss to become fern, fern to become tree, grey to become green?
Probably not that long if I wasn't here, walking all over his work.
The old man moves down my street like a chess piece being pushed forward. Bathurst Street to Shackleton Road he slides, bishop to E4.
His shirt and trousers are elderly: faded navy checks tucked into quiet beige, but his shoes shout 2019: Adidas trainers with hot-pink trims, Day-Glo yellow laces, and thick, ironic outsoles.
Despite the party at his feet, his mouth is a persistent grim slash across his face. I smile at him, but he never smiles back, this cool-shoed man. He just shuffles on past — a rook, not a bishop — always on the straight line.
In the winter they wait, roots resting in the tart cold earth. But when the days start to lengthen, something in the soil shouts, ‘make leaves!’ and the barky bodies above comply, sprouting bright green buds and lipstick-pink blossoms — lurid displays for the pollinators that flutter like fine silk in the wind.
The kids don’t wait. Protests spring up all over the world. Ours march down Queen Street in the rain, agitating for action, worried about what will happen if the spring doesn't come, if the winter is too warm, if that something-in-the-soil forgets to shout.