I ARRIVED back from up North on Tuesday afternoon. I'd been aware of reports of the tail end of Cyclone Debbie swishing in from across the ditch to dump its leftovers but, by and large, it just seemed we were in for a soak as opposed to a deluge.
I was a bit surprised then when I got as far as Raetihi and a chappie at a roadblock advised me that the Parapara section of State Highway 4 was closed due to flooding. I duly did the roundabout detour through Ohakune, Waiouru and Marton and arrived back in town late in the day.
Both the Turakina and Whangaehu rivers had looked surprisingly normal, as did everything around town, except for one thing -- the river, which was high, wide and ominous, and ferrying an impressive caravan of debris out to the heads.
A bit of trawling on the news sites, and I soon found out that the river level at Pipiriki was 2.5m higher than its June 2015 peak. Hey, scary stuff -- again!
I had yet to put together this week's humble offering but, as per usual, had a few possibilities that seemed worthy of a bit of a tilt.
Minor matters, really, like planetary extinction through a combination of climate collapse, rampant fundamentalism, Trumpery hubris and the like.
But, of course, such cogitations suddenly seem a tad trite when put up against the here and now of a painful June 2015 repeat -- or worse.
Like most others, I have friends on Anzac Parade.
The thought of them having to relive that trauma was extremely sobering. And particularly just when the Kowhai park playground and the other rec facilities, not to mention all the houses along the parade itself, were finally spruced again after a lot of sheer hard graft.
In the wider scheme of things, you'd have to say that a spot of flooding on the parade doesn't really cut the mustard against the horrors of a South Sudan or a Syria. But the personal dimension sheets things home in a way that international headlines often can't.
And even though the pains of the former aren't even in the same ballpark as the mega-tragedies of the latter, they are nevertheless all part of the thread that helps bond the empathetic self with victims of tragedy everywhere.
On Wednesday morning I wake up to steady, solid rain, and a river still looking very chocka and ominous, but not significantly higher than the night before.
Mayor McDouall's announcement of recorded projected river levels has been replaced by revised modelling indicating something less than record levels after all.
For my, and everyone else's, friends who have been frantically packing and moving belongings through the Tuesday afternoon and evening, this may be of small consolation, given that even somewhat less than the 2015 flood levels will still be enough to redevastate their homes.
However, that gives a shred of hope at least, but since the peak is still not expected until later in the day, there's still a nerve-shredding chunk of time to traverse before they find out if all their refurbishments and renovations of the past two years will again go down the gurgler.
Meanwhile, the news is reporting that another 100 persons or so have been poison-gassed in northern Syria and that, on a local level, there's an initiative to introduce meditation classes for New Zealand prisoners in an attempt to mitigate violence.
It's about changing the relationship with your own mind, it seems ... letting go of the baggage, and redirecting attention to the peaceful inner.
It's now mid-Wednesday and deadline time for me.
Happily, there's still no sign of the Whanganui waters starting to creep across Kowhai Park, but here's a wee meditation that the mind of the newly-conferred personage of the river directs its attention to the peaceful inner ... and getting to the Tasman without making mock of the stopbanks once again.
Hopefully, today's edition of the Chronicle confirms that the meditation was good to go ...