Now and Then

Lake Wanaka

In the summer, the harsh heat was beating down; disturbing the cool air at the start to a new day. I looked out over the untouched lake and saw the dusty, barren mountains, curious to find their reflections. Up above, you couldn’t see a single cloud, just the birds that filled the sky. Flying in formation, they looked like a giant kite, soaring through the thin air with urgency to get somewhere. I don’t know where but it was magical to watch. I used to feel intimidated walking along the dry, lifeless grass. It reached out to me, thirsty to find any drop it could. People carrying kayaks swarmed me, rushing around like caged bears. They all ran down to the lake, dodging the few trees and shrubs, their kayaks tried to dart away, like they have a mind of their own and I was stuck in the middle. You could hear the laughter of kids jumping off the pontoon, piercing through the thin air. It sounded like hyena pups playing, comforted by the evening heat closing down.  


I sat down on the shoreline and watched the lake settle in the boundary of the night, struggling to tame the last waves. The moon beams floated upon the surface, mirroring the inky sky. Waves danced together up to the shore then you would hear them fold over and slip away.


In the streets, people crowded under umbrellas shielding from the blazing sun. They looked like an army, waiting for their opponent. Cold drinks covered the table, ice swam on top of their refreshments and all I wanted to do was jump in. I felt sick of the hot weather and was so glad winter was around the corner.


Now in winter, I wake up to the sharp, icy atmosphere, sheltering the valley from the sun beyond. I look out over the harsh lake and in the distance, I can see the snow-covered mountains, they remind me of my bed in the morning; ridged and jagged, from all my pillows and teddies hiding under the unblemished white sheet. When I look up, all I see is the gloomy ash-colored sky silenced by the frosty morning. The grass stands up on end, sprinkled with a frosty powder it looks like wee green icicles rising up from the iron ground. I step on them crunching them flat into the brittle soil, marking a path from my previous journey. There was nobody down by the lake, no boats could conquer the harsh waves and no one dared to swim in the numbing water, it would feel like it was fresh of the glaciers.


The streets were crowded and a cloudy haze of cold breaths hung overhead. Figures huddled around the open doors, trying to retreat from the bitter cold. Inside the coffee shops, people lined up, waiting for their hot beverages hoping they would warm up from inside out. Cars fly past me along the side roads, the steam drifts of them like a hot cake out of the oven. Their windows are iced up with just enough space to peek out, noticing the rough weather out in the distance. It was going to be an intensely cold winter.


Molly Todd


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