But I'm at the peak of my cold. Slightly headachy, sinuses stuffed up, nose sore from constant blowing, a general feeling of exhaustion, weakness and lassitude, and regular bouts of sneezing. Once, I sneezed violently and thought I'd ruptured a kidney — a sudden, agonising shaft of pain knifing through the region where, I thought, the shattered remains of my right-side kidney now dangled, dripping and bloody. I suppose I'd just pulled a muscle, or maybe something had spasmed, but it still made me gasp and groan out loud. Even now, an hour or two later, it aches .
Then there's that weird feeling as if either the world's real or I'm real but not both. Am I somewhere else, looking at the world, or does the world go about its existence somewhere slightly removed from me, somehow independently of me? I knew viruses were strange, but never realised they could sever the connection between consciousness and reality.
Even time seems different. I listened to some favourite songs and they sounded far too fast; the pitch remained the same but the tempo had speeded up, as if the songs were late for a meeting. Had I slowed down, or had reality speeded up? If that makes any sense at all — which, given my state, it might not — could there be any difference, and if there is, could it be detectable even if principle?
A kereru  alights in the plum tree by the kennels and begins plucking buds as it sways on a branch seemingly too thin to support the big bird's bulk. A swallow  skims fast over the paddock in front of the verandah a few metres away; it loops and flits back, disappearing over the roof. The bird moves around its motionless wing, the world moves around the bird. Perhaps this is our mistake: we think the world revolves around us, but maybe we revolve around it, or — and this idea I like best — maybe we move around and with each other in an infinitely complex, eternally recurring cosmic dance.
1. Maybe I was right. Shortly after I wrote that, I discovered I was pissing blood. I rang the medical centre, and was transferred to the after hours service where I was told it would be good if I could come in and get checked. A trip into town: half an hour's driving each way, who knows how long sitting in a waiting room swapping my cold virus for someone else's swine 'flu, and then what could they do? Tell me, “Yes, you have blood in your piss?” I decided to wait, to see whether it would get better (as I suspected it would); to do what cats, those master healers, do — sleep in the sun and heal themselves. It worked, and my admiration for the wisdom of cats has further increased.
2. Kereru, Aotearoa/New Zealand's native pigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae.
3. The Welcome swallow, Hirundo tahitica neoxena.
1. This could be several things. One is the wild old apple near the edge of the terrace. The weird colours are deliberate.
2. This is that kereru, plucking plum buds.
3. And this is Ming, one of the wise, 22 years old now and still owning the place. He kept me company yesterday afternoon in the sun on the verandah.