Research station life took some getting used to. Unlike an ordinary job where one went home at the end of the day, here, there was other place to go. In the common room there was conversation, games, and a large collection of CDs and DVDs or one could go to one’s bedroom and read, but there were few other options. Laetitia had one advantage, though. As a veteran time traveler, she could lead a Mind’s Eye Limerick Tour when she had free time. In the past she would have viewed these as work, but now they were a pleasant diversion. Her roommate was watching a movie in the common room. Laetitia sat on her bunk, closed her eyes and shortly thereafter was in the kitchen of the Emerald Victorian brewing a pot of Sumatran dark roast. A short time later, she was in the library preparing for today’s tour of Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Canterbury Association founded Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand in the mid-nineteenth century. The mission of this London group was to set up colonies in what was once the domain of the Maoris. An influential member of the Association, John Godley, who attended Christ Church College at Oxford, suggested the name. Earthquakes hit the city hard in 2010 and 2011 but significant progress has been made in rebuilding. Lonely Planet listed it as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2013.
Leading a tour that included the International Antarctic Centre was now a bit of a busman’s holiday for Laetitia but Christchurch’s important role in both past and present Antarctic exploration made it a mandatory visit. In the evening, she planned to take her group to Tekapo Lake to share her Southern Lights experience with her group. It is one of the South Island’s better sites for viewing Aurora Australis, but in the interim she took her group “punting” on Christchurch’s river, the Avon. British settlers, nostalgic for a bit of home, no doubt started this tradition. The punt, an open flat-bottomed boat with square end ends that is propelled through shallow water with a pole, is a favorite recreational conveyance for England’s university students. English four-letter words often have alternate meanings and “punt” is no exception. It has more than thirty. In American football it means to kick the ball as far into the opposition’s territory as possible, a move usually done as a last resort when a team is unable to retain possession of the ball by achieving a first down. Following from that are its uses to describe any desperate act that has a small chance of succeeding and as an expression for something done to buy time. Some of these additional meanings include: to skip class, to avoid work, to bet, to pass a smoking device without taking a hit, an Irish pound note, and several sexual slang meanings. It rhymes with some interesting words including one that was simply an anatomical term in Chaucer’s time and over the centuries evolved into a term of vulgarity. Laetitia decided to use the word “punt” as the subject of her limerick.
In the land of Australis Aurora
Limerick lovers can’t help but adore a
Fine Brit word like “punt”
To use it’s no stunt
For of meanings it has a plethora.