Long ago I lived in an old farmhouse on Puketitiri Road above the Mangaone River, in Rissington, Hawkes Bay. Here:
(The new house at the top of the picture wasn’t there then, just the old one on the corner).
Opposite the house the river had cut the hillside away leaving tall white cliffs. In the early morning the birds dawn chorus, dominated by Bellbirds, echoed from the cliffs and bathed the house. The morning light, the fresh smell of spring air and the birdsong created a powerful memory I still hold in my mind.
Early one morning I put my stereo microphones on the windowsill to record the dawn chorus. After a few minutes I dropped a needle onto a disc on the turntable and played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The music and the birdsong blended beautifully.
I labelled that recording “Rissington 6 AM” and for many years it was a joyous reminder of one of the most peaceful and cheerful times of my life, before everything went to shit. I have lost the cassette now, but just playing the Moonlight Sonata still helps me to find that inner peaceful place in my mind. The joy is more nostalgia tinged with not a little sadness now, but it is still a memory I hold dear.