Back at Easter I had the pleasure and delight of watching the original 1939 movie the Wizard of Oz. It reminded me that there’s something quite wonderful and charming about watching a movie that was actually filmed on a set with real actors, backdrops that ever so slightly moved, props that wobbled and most of all no overly complicated storyline that seems to be the feature of any modern day classic film. Yes, I must confess to having enjoyed every second of the 101 minutes that Dorothy spent trying to get back home to her Kansas farm with her dog Toto to see her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. I even found myself quite delighted when she clicked her heels together and said “there’s no place like home.”
Dorothy’s notion of ‘home’ popped into my head the other morning as I sat all toasty and warm in my car while the american rock group The Band sang about Cripple Creek on the stereo. As locations such as the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Charles in Louisiana were mentioned on the radio I pondered the idea of ‘home’ and the fact that even with a fierce southern wind swirling around the city, a snow warning sitting ominously in the forecast and the cold winter months looming in the not too distant future there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Having always called Dunedin home, it is my base point, my standard to which I compare all other places that I visit. Wherever I roam, I make involuntary comparisons as places will either be big or smaller, busier or slower, warmer or colder than what I’m used to. Home is the place I choose to be and the place I tell everyone else about. Interesting, it’s also the place I’m terrible at explaining where things are. Put me in Wellington for example and I’ll be able to give you a detailed explanation of how to navigate from the Basin Reserve to the main train station. However, ask me to describe how to get from Dunedin’s Railway Station to The Art Gallery and I end up having to check the street name on Google Maps.
The beautiful thing about navigating Dunedin is that you can wander aimlessly and have a delightful time doing it. If there’s one thing Dunedin has taught me is that having no plan at all, can often be the best plan there is. In one day you can end up in amazing coffee shops, historic buildings and viewing wildlife on the beach. You can take in the poetry of Robbie Burns, the art of Ralph Hotere and the writing of Janet Frame. You can stroll around taking in the street art scene or venture further afield to the Peninsula, Port Chalmers or Aramoana. You can visit New Zealand’s only castle or walk up the world’s steepest street.
The more I thought about Dunedin and the idea of home, the more I became interested in what visitors would read about the place in the local paper. Curious, later in the day I scanned through the pages of the daily paper and found local articles about leaves blowing off trees, Regional Health Board members having coffee with chickens and coverage of the local Sheep Dog Trials. Clearly Dunedin was having a busy day!