Yesterday morning, before it rained and was sunny and then it rained again, I went for a walk.
The weather was as inconsistent as community case numbers in this Covid-19 Delta outbreak and, at the end of my street, three feral chickens had scratched a dust bath under a tree. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to level clucking 3.
I passed a villa, with the French doors flung wide and a live piano recital in progress. I passed an old woman, hunched in her raincoat, picking through the household rubbish bins placed this-side-to-the-kerb. A tino rangatiratanga flag in one window; framed baby clothes in another.
My sweet peas have flowered, my tatsoi has gone to seed, there is a window ajar in an abandoned house and I am so tired of all this noticing. On the fifth week of hard lockdown, we started to wilt.
"Have we tried turning on each other?" asked comedian Guy Montgomery on Twitter. "That could help."
In truth, outrage takes energy. In lockdown, getting up and staying up takes a kind of relentless enthusiasm that, at this point in proceedings, requires prescription medication to maintain.
Why, yes, I'd like fries with all of this. Also pad Thai, mushroom pizza and 90 per cent vaccination rates. I want a walk on a wild beach and an hour without the person I love but am sick of living with. I want Countdown to deliver two bottles of shiraz (red, still) instead of two bottles of champenoise (white, bubbly). I want bags of gratitudinal cash bonus from the rest of the country and also any spare annual leave it has lying around so I can stare at the duvet instead of the flying giant manta ray the head of news has downloaded as his 9.30am Zoom background. I want to get married and honeymoon in Copenhagen and I'd settle for a trip to the pub after work with friends.
Covid continues to ruin everything. In Aotearoa, it was confirmed that, due to ongoing lockdown levels, the Bakels Legendary Sausage Roll Competition was cancelled. In Trinidad and Tobago, it was confirmed that, due to Nicki Minaj not being a medical professional, testicular swelling was not a reported side-effect of Covid-19 vaccination.
My fiance who earlier this lockdown wiggled his own wisdom tooth free, has now cut his own hair. I expect, next week, he will begin fashioning pants from recycled courier bags.
Has it really only been five days since we named that bus? My personal favourite was Chariots of Pfizer. The Vaxi Taxi sounded like something you might catch in the provinces and fix with a cream from the chemist. "Shot Bro" was the clear winner and not just because you could run it in big letters on the digital display panel.
Clear communication is essential in a crisis. I'm flummoxed as to how I missed the announcement that if you don't have any pressing need to return to normal life, you should definitely go skiing in Turoa, host drinks in your carport on Paritai Drive or do a quick cross-border Macca's run. No, seriously, it's fine. I'm so happy staying in and watching Lego Masters Australia for the foreseeable.
For many, the fifth week was about quelling the anxiety that rose with case numbers (20 on Saturday; 24 on Sunday, 22 yesterday) and the terrible news that Delta had been detected in the Waikato. Officialdom promised Aucklanders that a shift to alert level 3 was still on the horizon but did anybody really believe them?
Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made good on those assurances. On Wednesday morning, the region that has endured twice as long in lockdown as anywhere else will wake up in lockdown - but at least this one comes with lattes. A small section of the Waikato around the community of Mangatangi is back at level 4, but Auckland will drop to level 3 at 11.59pm tonight.
Not much will change. Most of us are still be required to avoid workplaces, schools and each other. At alert level latte, you can buy contactless takeaways and paddle a kayak 200m from shore. You can hold a funeral, tangihanga, burial, wedding or civil union ceremony with no more than 10 people in attendance. You should keep wearing masks. You should keep socially distancing. You can, as always and at any level, get vaccinated. Please, go and get vaccinated.