If you walk over a landscape enough, it becomes part of you. You absorb it through your feet, drink the parched soft cream colours through your eyes, smell the warm dry grass and the tang of pines, swim in the cool shadows of the trees on a hot summer's day, resonate with the cicadas' buzzing. I can still feel the dry heat of my teenage Hawkes Bay days when Wendy and I would walk up Te Mata (Tay-Mah-tah) Peak on a Sunday, simply for the fun of doing it, just to get to the trig and look out over our plains. From door to door, it would take us about three hours, maybe a little more. We'd go up past flocks of sheep through Chamber's Walk, the path winding under the Cenozoic limestone cliffs with their strange bivalve fossils, and then battle supplejack vines and tree nettles in the sudden cool of the bush walk, emerging out of the pines at the bottom of this valley.
When we got near the top, we could see the whole of the Heretaunga (Hairy-tong-ah) Plains before us, shimmering in the heat. Havelock North immediately below us (where's your house?) and the green strip of orchards, before the neat cross-hatching iron-grid street layout of Hastings. Rows of orchard shelter belt poplars centre, south to the dry hills over towards Pakipaki (Pah-key-pah-key), north to Napier and Bluff hill - an island before the big earthquake of '31. In winter we could easily see the far white line of snow stretching along the tops of the Kaweka (kar-wekka), Ruahine (Roo-ah-hee-nay) and Mangaharuru (Mar-ngar-har-roo-roo) range, and, way in the distance, the ice-cream cones of the central plateau volcanoes peeking through the perfectly-placed gap.
The other side of course, the sudden drop down the steep scarp face to the Tukituki (Took-ee-took-ee) River, and the desiccated hills out to Cape Kidnappers - well, that was something else again...
"Kaitiakatanga" - Tread lightly on the Earth