Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year’s Eve and all that I loathe.

I hate this time of the year. Some people might be Christmas Grinchs, but not me; I love everything about the Christmas season; the carols, the gift-wrapping, the careful cooking of timeless recipes old and new.  It’s this time of the year, between the afterglow of good giving, and the dreaded New Years Eve, that I loathe.

Expectations of another wonderful year ahead  (what was so great about this year, huh?) and the party to end all parties, New Years Eve looms like a zombie in front of me,  arms outstretched with gnashing teeth and dead eyes.  Ok, maybe not, but it’s not a well built young man in nappies with a golden 2013 around his neck, either.  It’s the weight of other people’s hopes and dreams, unrealistic and simplistic; that drag me down.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve given many NYE parties for my friends and family. In fact, almost every year without exception, and that’s the problem. Can’t they invite us back, and do their own party in their own house, to return the favour?  For once, wouldn’t it be nice to be a guest in someone else’s home; to simply wander into a bottle shop, purchase some yummy champers, and bring a plate of cheese artfully plopped next to the biscuits. All care, no attention.  Turn up the music.

Lots of our friends own swimming pools, how hard would it be to ask us to come around and bask beside their pool, like the photos I see on their Facebook pages?

No bothering about what theme for the night, no decorations, no amazing food spreads. I recall one year I cooked not one but two whole reef fish, borrowing a portable oven from a local chef. It was stunning but I hadn’t realised the bins wouldn’t be emptied until the following week.  The leftover stench nearly killed us.
It must be us, not them. I don’t get it. You’d think by now I’ve have some friendship credit with my loved and dear mates, but apparently not. So this year, this wrung out, gloriously used up, sucked dry, wretched, withered and exhausted year,  will see me parked in front of the telly, feet up, a glass resting in my hands, watching the fireworks.

Today I am taking my resentful, sulking self to escape to the coast, packing the leftover ham and wondering how many of the 25 Creative Ways with Christmas Ham recipes I can actually remember. Before leaving to drive north, I’ve washed the sheets, sprayed the weeds and put the bins out; I’ve been a good girl, surely I deserve a treat?
All that’s left to do is pack the house and leftovers, hump them down to the car; somehow pack everything in; including the cat, and drive for two hours in traffic to repeat the scenario at the other end, shoving bits of almost recognisable leftovers into the beach house fridge. It will probably die of shock; it was making weird noises and rattles last time we were up.

Wherever New Years Eve finds you, have a lovely happy time, and remember your friends. 

I won’t be.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whose Freedom?

Looking at this picture, who had the most freedom? The three gliding pelicans; unconcerned to our human life of worries; or the three teenagers, now past-students - having completed senior studies at high school, and awaiting their school results so university can begin?

Meet my son and his two best friends.

They are putting out little "tinny" out for the day, blatting around the beautiful Noosaville waterways, enjoying their new-found lives and freedom from books, studying, Latin verbs, math 2, physics and biology, school ties ad-nauseum.

Do kids these days still have "best friends" when they also have 250 "contacts" on msn, all of whom they dit and chat to on a nightly basis?

Sure they do.

These 250 contacts aren't friends...well...most of them aren't, anyway. They are people you keep in touch with, so they don't spam you, knock you down, harass you on the net and generally make your life a misery.


But these two young men, and they are now; young men, are his best mates.

I have seen them grow from eager fresh-faced Year 8's, to the thoughtful and considerate, (not to mention, highly intelligent) young blokes you see before you.

My son has excellent taste in friends. And vice versa.

Freedom. It' not the birds gliding past; it's the kids; oblivious to their future calling - their wives/lives/unborn children and careers ahead of them.

For them, for now, it is simply mucking about in boats, with their mates on the water.
Life is sweet and free.

Me and Bobby McGee

Did you ever think that the clear, solid notes coming from a trumpet would be golden?

This is me and Bobby McGee, except I am behind the camera, taking the photograph.

His name really is Bobby McGee, just like the song, but not after the song.

Bobby was born in Scotland, and travelled to New York as a 12 year old to play trumpet professionally with his older sister. Now just read that bit again. Left Scotland when he was 12; travelled to New York; to play professionally.

I have to blow through my teeth to comprehend the circumstances.

Bobby has earnt his living for the past 60 years playing trumpet, all over the world. At one stage he was based in Israel, performing “The Sound of Music” in Hebrew!

Now he is with my sister, and they are ‘an item’.

This photo was taken at our New Years Eve party, and when I downloaded the digital pics, I thought I was either too drunk to work the camera, or the battery is flat. As it later turns out, the flash synchronisation was on slow, and the blurring lights are my cherished ‘icicle lights’ to decorate the veranda for summer!

But I love how it captures Bobby McGee playing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on his trumpet, his trusty, around-the-world trumpet, playing for friends and family, for his love, my sister, playing for his living.
Golden notes, who would have thought! But a camera never lies, eh?

Me and Bobby McGee.

Beyong the gate

It looks charming, and it is. A simple wooden gate, painted white, the typical "picket fence" attracts the eye, but looking around, the scent of the frangipanni flowers also attracts the senses.

This is the gate that leads to my father’s room... beyond this gate, my father lies dying.

It's part of a beautiful Nursing Home in Rockhampton, and I grow to both love, and eventually dread, this gate.

The frangipanni tree offers me large clumps of flowers - their heads bowed in respect. The path is swept on a daily basis, so that any flowers that may fall are fresh and clean, unbruised, unlike my heavy heart.
Will he remember me today? Will he still be there, in his mind, in his body?

I pick a frangipanni and place it behind my right ear, so it shines out happily when he sees me.

They have always been my favourite flower, in their pureness and simplicity, the heady, giddy perfume enclosing me within a safe world of childhood memories, of hanging upside down in a huge old tree, marvelling at the hugeness of the world in my front garden.

Wonderful memories of reading books and eating apples, running around the frangipanni tree kicking up the leaves in autumn...waiting patiently for the first sings of new growth, the dark green tips sprouting from each barren stem, holding the promise of another summer, more glorious flowers, more hanging upside down to compare if my world had expanded during the winter.

This gate, this white, simple gate leads to where my father lies dying.

I took this photo as a precaution to a hazy memory, I wanted to savour every detail about my dad before stress and loss dimmed my memory.

Now I look at it, and although I am smiling with my love of the tree with its daily offerings of fresh perfumed flowers for me to enjoy, I am reminded of a softer, sadder time, where breathing becomes a chore, where time not only stands still, but runs backwards, as we the children become the adults and vise versa.

I push the gate open, and stoop to collect my flower...

Tahiti training

Each afternoon they come like clockwork, 5.10pm. You hear them first, the grunting, the shouting across the calm, glassy waters of Tahiti's Morea Island.

Soon, their black bodies, hardened with honest work and gleaming with perspiration, glide into view, their arms pumping the paddles on their sleek outrigger canoes.

Legend has it Tahitians would race across the Pacific Ocean to the nearby island of Bora Bora.
It tires me to even think of it, as we had just crossed the same passage a few days before in our chartered catamaran, and believe me, the waves and swell are huge out there, beyond the reef. The ocean currents run for thousands of kilometres before hitting land, so the waves have time to build and grow in size.

Our crew for this magical sailing holiday on the 12metre cat are our teenage sons, who soon prove their worth and find their sea legs quickly. Sails are hoisted, anchors set and retrieved with minimum fuss. The only trouble we have is attempting to pick up a buoy outside the famous ‘Bloody Mary’s Restaurant’ in Bora Bora. As we motor around for the third time, we find our Skipper still distracted by the sight of a nearby naked Swiss woman, swimming off her yachts stern.

After sailing for 7 days, now we are landlubbers, relaxing in the arms of luxury in our gorgeous palm-fronded cabin. We can swim right outside our front door, and often do, searching the coral for Nemo and his fishy friends. The sight of the outrigger crews is our unexpected bonus, our afternoon entertainment.

The crews come each evening, straight from work, and train for an hour in the lagoon. We pour cold drinks and watch them from our over-the-water-veranda; it soon becomes my favourite habit, much to my husband’s amusement!

The coach for both crews calls out and encourages each man, to do his best, to stroke! Paddle! Pull! Endure! Beyond the lagoon break, there are shells, growing where the waves strike and fall upon the reef; there are huge swells, and whales, passing on their way to warmer waters. The crews paddle beyond the break, beyond the breaking, crashing waves, beyond the roar of white water and leave the safety of the lagoon’s mirrored waters.

Massive outriggers holding over 200 men would paddle from Tahiti to New Zealand, and return, navigating by the stars, pinpointing these tiny specks of islands with their volcanic peaks reaching upwards, to the Gods.

The lagoons have formed as each island sinks under the weight of their own volcanic mountains, forming a safety zone for fish and corals and shells and people and lush foliage. To enter the lagoon after being at sea, is to enrobe oneself in a mantel of peace and tranquillity.

Safe at last! Drop anchor! The sea is a harsh mistress, at times.

We had planned our Tahiti holiday with as much precision and latitude as possible, allowing for no delays, but plenty of surprises, and this was an unexpected bonus, these outrigger training crews, and their bulging arms, amazing energy and their calls and shouts of encouragement.

Gotta love being on holidays. Cheers!

Other submissions by this author:   Me and Bobby McGee :: Whose Freedom

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rockhampton Show. Winter of my first doll.

In the foot stamping cold of a winters night, we blew on our hands in desperation. The gloss of the Rockhampton Show’s was beginning to fade as we waited for our father to take us home. Mum was furious, her eyes narrowing with each question answered through gritted teeth.
No, I don’t know where your father is.

No I don’t know where the car keys are.

I have no idea when we will go home.

No, I still don’t know where your father is, but he’d better hurry up!

Various whines came from my brothers and sisters. We needed to go to the toilet. We were hungry. We were bored, and tired. Mum sat in silence, barely able to speak. I believe she was crying softly. And then we heard him, muffled at first through the hard black interior of the old Dodge car, then louder as he stumbled towards us.

Darlings! Sweetheart! Look what I won!

His leering face loomed at the windows, fogging the glass. He grinned and winked lopsidedly at me. Resisting all instinct to throw my arms around him, I pulled back into the car seat and the darkness.

Mum’s voice exploded over the city like fireworks. Where have you been? How DARE you keep us all waiting, John!

She seethed and bucked like a scorpion riding a bronco. A wild animal of a woman, keep waiting with five restless, cold children. Our tummies rumbled in sympathy.

Dad held up something in the darkness to me. Something pink and glittery. My eyes adjusted slowly to this new scene. A shepard’s crook, more glitter and sparkles, hot pink tulle. It was a Cupie doll, and the most stunning object of beauty I could ever imagine. Dad grinned sheepishly to us all, and we shyly twinkled our frozen fingers back at him.

Having settled into the new life of a priest in Rockhampton, the lure of the XXXX Show bar became too much for our dad. Encouraged by the jovial slaps of his new parishioners, he happily drank to his new flock, and basked in the fuzzy glow of new friendships. On his way out, a showman, sensing an easy target, took dad’s hand and placed three fat grubby baseballs in to it.

Here Father, have a go, every child wins a prize! Dads white dog collar stiffened with ambition mixed with pride and he closed one eye and took his best shot. To everyone’s surprise, it was a convincing win, and he had the choice of any prize on the top shelf. He swaggered momentarily, and then pointed with an unsteady finger, to the pretty doll with the gold hair and a stiff circle of skirt.

Now, as dad held himself up on the car door, from under his jacket he also produced bags of fairy floss and small stuffed toys. The Showman had felt sorry for his priestly charge, and had endowed him with small prizes, which dad gave to my brothers and sisters. Mum drove home in silence, as we children explored the beauty and mysterious wonder of the Rocky Show.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

So dad, yeah, another year without you. Somehow we muddle along.

Btw are you sitting on my steps in Paddo? The cat keeps looking and staring and in my mind I can see you, dressed in your blue flannel checked shirt, red and green beanie askew, grinning at me.

Is heaven that good dad? So what do you think about everything? Let me pick your brains and chew over the fat, as we used to do in days gone by. Did you see what I've done with your book? Yeah, I know, but it's getting there. Yep, quality paper, lots of photos, as you wanted. It's your book. I'm still working on mine.

No, I don't laugh as much, you're right, fancy you noticing that. Yes, I'm eating well, and of course I miss you topping up our wine glasses. How you loved to fuss over us. Thanks mate. We adored you too.

Yes, I'm doing what you asked me to. No I'm not crying much. I don't miss you most days, as you are always beside me. Even the cat notices.

Take care mannie, I'll see you again.

Want to help me blow your candle out? Ready? Hold hands, eyes closed, talking to God.

Now blow....

Miss you Beetle. xx

Always the Youngest.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Condoms galore!

Extract from My Mate and Me - The life and times of John Warby and Family

Meanwhile, Laurie and I were cleaning out below, when we discovered half a dozen large cartons, stacked away under the stern counter.

On close inspection, we found that each sealed carton contained one gross of smaller cartons. Each of these contained one gross of small envelopes, each containing a condom.   Laurie and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.  

Here, were roughly 125,000 condoms, obviously purchased from the War Disposals sale in New Guinea and left on board, when the owners had sold the lugger.    To our trusting eyes, they seemed in good order, but neither of us was authoritative on the subject!  Why not sell them? Or even give them away?   We sent a carton per taxi to an Army mate in Sydney, who was now in business as a chemist, and far more expert on the subject than ourselves.  Would our windfall turn out to be a goldmine?


But the word was 'no'.  Despite appearances, they were too old and untrustworthy.   No doubt, that was why they had been abandoned.  We decided to dump them that night on the outgoing tide. I still recall what a slow job it was, hauling up each carton in the dark, opening them and heaving the small cartons over the side to be dispersed by the tide.

Next morning, the shore was littered with hundreds of cartons that had been blown ashore by the wind, and not floated out to sea, as we'd hoped.  But we were glad to see that it was not long before they, too, disappeared.  Perhaps the next tide was higher and had carried them away, we thought.

Eighteen months later we found out where some, at least, had gone, when we put Panton up on Hockings Boatslip at T.I., for some underwater attention.   An irate shipwright confronted us.  Wasn't the Panton in Careening Cove last year?   She sure was, we said.   Did we own it, then?  Rather modestly, we agreed she was ours at the time.   Did we chuck overboard thousands of French letters then?   Laughingly, we agreed, yes, we had done that.  

“You bastards!” he shouted, revealing that he and his wife now had a strapping son, resulting from him picking up some cartons!

 He and his mates had collected the lot.   I wonder how many other new Australians we were responsible for!   As it is said, “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform”!

 Murphy had nothing to do with it!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


She leans into his shoulder and closes her eyes against the evening sea breeze. Curls her painted toes around smooth pebbles. Dreams of paradise.  And lowering his gaze to her windswept face and tousled hair, he holds her, pushes hair away, kisses her lightly. Urgently. Softly. Choosing one rose, he places it in the water. Not thrown; placed. The photographer bends on one knee,captures the falling wave splashing against the red petals, adjusts his shutter to the fading light, clicks again. Remembered.

They are in New Zealand to recreate their wedding day from 30 years ago, but already it’s too late. His cancer has returned with the strength of a thousand men and his body is weak and frail with yellow.
The images are now on my computer, and from my kitchen I watch them walk their last walk together, as I create his funeral DVD. Their love was strong, obvious, deeply felt, ever-lasting.
So now she sits before me in a restaurant, eyes lowered. She cannot look into anyone’s eyes, not even her own.  The hurt is so raw, her grief so huge, it will need a decade of nights to smooth over.
She’s bought flowers for me, roses. My thank you for filming and recording the funeral. For archiving forever, the way she held her head back, staring at the chapel ceiling. Trying not to film too closely, the way she knelt in front of her Nana; the way she placed her head on the old woman’s lap, and allowed her hair to be stroked.

Roses of every colour, to say thank you and celebrate the worst day of her life, the hardest goodbye. Reluctantly, gratefully, I take them from her shaking hands, and gently hug her frailty.

There is no smile, only the haunted look of a woman in love with a husband who will never age.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Birthday Poem

Written for my 50th, love it, thanks Paul Martin.

To our Patty we say Happy Birthday once more,

She's Patricia Anne with an E,
But to us she's just our Patty.
But not just I must say she much more than that,
She's a modern woman,
A woman for the millennium,
Digital and smoke free.

No postmodern, politically correct deconstructionist,
She's a diversified, multi cultural, modernist non-delusionalist,
Politically, anatomically and ecologically correct.

She's a high tech high life.

She uplinks, downloads, inputs, and never outsources.

She's a cutting edge multi-tasker,
She'll give you a gigabite in a nanosecond.

New wave, but old school,
Her inner child is outward bound,
She's a hotwired, heat seeking, warm-hearted, cool customer.

Voice activated and biodegradable.

She's as cool as a cucumber.
Always singing a new number.

Patty interfaces with her database,
And her database is cyberspace.

Patty is interactive, hyperactive, and radioactive.
Never behind the eight ball,
she's ahead of the curve, riding the wave, always pushing the envelope.

She's on point, on task, on message and on the money.

Patty is in the moment, on the edge, over the top, and always
on our radar.

Still lighting rooms with her smile.

She's a high concept, high profile, long range ballistic marvel.

A computer wise, top gun smart sex bomb,
An enthusiastic critical thinker,

She's Eve not Adam our boat captain on the river out of Eden.

She daily climbs Mount Improbable,
Like a cool cat she flies here and there,
And the world now spins around like a top,
What better than to call it a dance,
Maestro Patty, the choreographer supreme, and the ultimate DJ.

She comes with no personal trainers, no personal shoppers, no personal assistants,
And no personal attitude.

She's a Webmistress with a whip in one hand a feather duster in the other.

Not a raging workaholic, not a working rageaholic,
Unless she's working on a DVD that is.

She's a totally ongoing, slam dunk, rain maker.

You can't shut her up, you can't dumb her down,
She's tireless, she's wireless.

She's a true believer, and an overachiever.

Patty is up front, down home, high rent, and low maintenance, Super sized,
long lasting, high definition, and fast acting.

She's a hands on, foot loose, knee jerk humanitarian.

She's a fully equipped, factory authorized, hospital tested, clinically proven, scientifically formulated biology wizard.

She's prewashed, precooked, prepackaged, preapproved,
prescreened, post-dated, freeze dried, and always prepared.

She eats fast food in the slow lane,

She's toll free, bite sized, ready to wear, and takes on all.

She's not a rude dude,
She's the real deal.

Lean, but not mean,
Cocked, locked and ready to rock.

She's not rough or tough, yet hard to bluff.

She takes things slow, she goes with the flow,
She rides the tide, she's got glide in her stride.

Always thinking and tinkering,
Lecturing and debating,
Confronting and challenging.

She's always pushing the pedal to the metal,
She parties hearty,yes we know,
There ain't no doubt,

She's still smashing fours and sixes around the ground.

So Today we're chanting Happy Birthday.

"To Patty", our mate, our friend, our pal, our buddy and much much more, the crowd stands to applaud and roars with delight as the commentater yells into the mike, "She's still at the crease with bat in hand now 50 something not out. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Incoming tide.

Sit beside me, here near the shady Pandanus tree, with it’s sharp canopy of leaves. Feel the breeze on your skin. Let’s begin, yes?

Cross your legs and close your eyes, we’re going to share some time together in the sunshine.

We’re sitting in a time-warp, a scene repeated each day, every season, year after year. A dropping tide exposes mangrove roots to an impossibly blue sky, a sky so clear you have to wonder where the wind hides?

Ancient aerial roots stand like burnt party candles, or perhaps, like dead men’s fingers, pointing to a day they cannot share; choked in mud and suffocating  under the weight of sand and tides.

I’ve always been fond of mangroves; an unfriendly tree at the best of times, but I know they hold the secret to sweet fish and an underwater world of crabs and scuttlerly things, hiding lost fishing hooks and dreams of the one that got away.

A lone gull parades in red stockings, quickly shuffles along with the wind to his back. Neck feathers ruffle in a stand-up collar. Elvis would be proud.

Looking around, it’s easy to unravel the wall of sound that surrounds me; like an old jumper, strand by strand.

A crow to my left, no doubt exclaiming his free lunch left by a careless worker.
A mother and her plump child in a bright blue hat, dragging a large stick.  Looking for something in the clear blue waters edge. Small fish perhaps, anxious to retreat to the shady cool of the mangrove’s safety and protection.

Behind me, walkers shuffle along a sand-strewn track, thongs scuffling an emery board sound in rhythm to their laugh and chatter.

Ker-chunk ker-chunk denotes skateboarders, breezing past in shorts and attitude. Further to my right; under a spreading she-oak tree, and drenched in motterly shade, teens play a bastardized game of soccer, more pushing and shoving than any skilled kicking.  The ball lands with a dull thud.

Overhead, an unseen plane wings its way to sea, its passengers no doubt staring at the coastline for one last glimpse of their holiday. Kids drift past in a blue and white kayak, too tired to paddle, they let the wind gently move them slowly along; giving them time to think and dream and chat and just sit about and watch the world glide past. Messing about on boats.

Darker patches of water hide leaves and stingrays basking in the arm shallow waters, whilst sandbars tippy-toe out of the water, waiting for children’s footprints, a dogs bark, seagulls tracking.

Tiny feet.

Crabs roll sand-balls out of habit, then hide. An outgoing tide, turns, and begins again.
Incoming tide.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writing for fun - Halloween

He hesitated, but only to adjust his collar, pulling it tautly upright against the dripping rain. He hasn’t seen me, not yet.

Not yet.

I crush myself into the bush hiding within its darkness. Branches scratch at my face and arms. Overhead, bats flap aimlessly searching for fruit. I can hear their soft wings beating the night-air with a brushing rhythm. Settling, they squabble high above me in the trees, as a car slowly drives past.

My eyes stare into the brightly lit door slowly opening; I can see him speaking to someone and nodding. Readjusting my position within the bush, I move my feet to avoid standing in dog poo, I can smell it and I gag slightly, just for a moment. Slowly he turns around to face my direction, and I freeze like a rabbit in a spotlight, willing myself to become invisible. Squinting, peering, he holds his hands outstretched, and receives the goodies, turning briskly to walk to the next house.  

I have been following him now for 4 houses and he is yet to discover me.

We are both drenched in spring rain and sweat, it’s been a long day, and yet the night is but young. 

There is still so much to do, to be done.

A cat slinks within the shadows, stalking the fat rats that hide among the street foliage and bushes. The cat, this familiar cat, dark haired with white paws, sees me, and meows loudly, beginning to rub himself against my leg. My feeble attempts to silence the animal have failed, and hearing a slight commotion, he turns once again, his attention caught, and begins to walk towards me, towards my darkness and cover.

“Mum! Is that really you?  I’m a big boy now; I can trick or treat without you.”

The Rooster

Cedrick the Cockerel strutted his kingdom.  Fluffed his feathers.  Ruffled his comb. Preened his chest.
He was so proud of his new look, and he turned this way and that, catching his reflection in the pane of glass of his owners house. Not for him the chook pen, no siree, he was a show chicken, a stud, a champion exhibit at the Ekka, and he knew it.  Only yesterday the owners little girl held him gently, tenderly, painting his talons a deep, ruby-red. He studied them now, holding out a claw to catch the sun. Very nice. 

Today, he freely wandered the garden feeding on the worms and grubs he was able to delicately scratch out with his prized, painted, perfect, painted claw.

Cedrick the Cockerel never saw the farmer from behind; was too confused when he was lain on his puffed chest across the large piece of wood. Never heard a thing, only the farmers’ wife at the window yelling in a booming voice: “And cut those stupid legs off too!”


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beach Walk 2012

I say it every year but never do it. Never. It's my coastal mantra which rarely eventuates, "a long beach walk, the length of the coast". Maybe once, at dawn; with my niece and young son, watching him drag his troll-like toenails across the sand; the colour of cake batter. Today, I am out of excuses, and drive to a quiet place where I can access the beach without the hordes of tourists watching.

It’s not that I am shy; I don’t want or need the company.

A soft-sanded walkway invites me to explore the beach of the northern end of Maroochydore. Entrance 148 it exclaims. I begin to walk south, my black sarong flapping around my thighs; the beach seems a little empty today. One good thing about the coast here, you can pick and choose your beach for the day. Too windy from the east? Try the river with its quieter waters, but watch that current. It’s fast and tricky! Blowing from the south? Go to The Spit, it’s always sheltered, facing north with small waves ideal for toddlers and old folk.

Glancing to my right, I can see it’s mostly women and older couples on their towels, rubbing brown shoulders with coconut oil (I can smell it) and laying flat on their backs. Like a lizard, although I’ve never seen lizards lie on their backs. A few young teens frolic in the water. Today the temperature is just about perfect and I remind myself that I will not, I must not swim, as my car keys are tucked into my togs and they’ll get wet. I must not, but the pull and lure of the waves is irresistible, and I paddle shin deep in the incoming tide.

Sets of waves stand up like wedding cake tiers, all froth and bubble, but underneath I can see a churning brown of fresh water. Wind against tide, the water pushes to the beach and retreats south, always retreats south. Stronger surges force me to tred carefully as I reach the coffee rocks, an area of old volcanic rocks, easy to carve, easy to erode. Although named coffee rocks, you’d be wrong to think it’s the colour of them; indeed the rocks are jet-black, Indian ink black. Coffee rocks perhaps, as in the texture of coffee, nothing more. Bright green seaweeds reside in tidal pools; looks stunning against the blackness. Nature’s abstract art.

Here, a mangrove leaf the colour of sunset sits in wait, kept company by white rounded marble rocks. The shells are familiar, the grey of Chinese hats, the orange of others, and the pure white smoothness of those, near the water. I don’t pick any up, must be getting old; our beach house is bulging with shells collected from previous walks.
There’s been erosion here; slabs of concrete lay like slain soldiers, perhaps this was a walking path once? Layers of dark grey and sand are exposed; the beach needs years to recover, and the sand dunes rebuilt. It’s heartless, the wind and tide.

As I walk in the tidal contours, my feet kick up the warm water, scattering a thousand comets and stars ahead of my footfall. In an instant they are gone, walked over, to begin again with the next push of a wave.

Turning back, time to go home.

I hear it first, the dull chop chop of a helicopter, when suddenly it appears like a gun-metal grey wasp. The doors are closed and I can see no signage on it, it’s not a coastguard chopper or even a rescue chopper. For that we can be thankful. Past the Surf Lifesaving Club, past the pokies and the bar smelling like spilt beer, past the other walkers on the beach with Australian flag designs for boardies, past the bandaid and cigarette butt on the tidal line, towards my car park. Up through the soft, slattered walk, the coast becomes a softer murmur, replaced by the wind’s sigh through stands of banksias and casuarinas.