Lofty Aspirations

Why we climb trees

Visiting my family in the Cook Islands in the 1980s, I was entranced by a man named King Piri Puroto III. He called himself the coconut king and put on shows for tourists which included fire-making, tree-climbing, coconut husking and flirting with the ladies. He was elderly, no one knew quite how old, but he must have been at least seventy.

Making Things out of Wood with a Knife

The art of whittling

I liked the idea of sitting in a chair in front of your house
for hours,
doing nothing but wearing a hat and drinking cola.
What's wrong with that?
Drawing on a cigarette from time to time.
Making things out of wood with a knife.
Where's the harm there?

From Shiftless, Raymond Carver.

Not Waving but Drowning

How to signal for help

Learn from the story of Carl McCunn. Five months after being dropped in a remote corner of backcountry Alaska, the Texas born wildlife photographer began to worry. The details he had left with friends and family were vague. He thought he had organised a plane to pick him up, but had he made it clear to the pilot? And then, one day as his hope was low, he heard a plane.

Not the Next Kelly Tarlton

Lawrence Patchett rediscovers snorkelling

Before Norfolk Island this winter, I’d never enjoyed snorkelling. As a kid I wasn’t a natural swimmer. My technique tended to be splash, panic, and freeze. And previously when I’d tried snorkelling, the mask had leaked, and I couldn’t work the snorkel. Blocking my nose with plastic underwater made me panic. Plus it was freezing, up in the rivers behind Nelson.

Bright and Fine

Panning for gold

Spend it in the winter
Or die in the cold.
One a pecker, Tuapeka
Bright fine gold

Gold fields folk song, writer unknown.