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Archive for April, 2020

A morning story.

With half-open eyes, I checked the surf report from bed this morning and then slowly made my way down to Central Avenue. The car park was empty which was a surprise and either a great or not-so-great sign.

Walking down the path, the waves sounded bigger than the reported two feet. But, sound never tells you the full story.

From the lookout, the tide was as far out as it gets. The sand was untouched except for a dozen footprints where a woman had crossed on her way from the bottom of the stairs to the rock pools. It rarely looks like that nowadays.

With my board resting in the dunes, I sat down to watch a couple of sets roll through. The waves were clean but less powerful than I had hoped.

As I began to contemplate walking back to the car, I shut my eyes and listened to all the sounds the beach and my breath were offering. I thought about what this coastline would’ve looked like 200 years ago, what it would’ve looked like 20,000 years ago. How the energy in the ocean slowly wears away at the rocks and makes and shapes the land like a slow, blind, sculpture. There is beauty in knowing that the ocean has no plan for the land and that the land has no plan for the ocean. They draw each other and us together.

My eyes eventually opened and the waves could not convince me that it was worth getting in. By then a couple were standing at the top of the stairs also trying to read the ocean’s morning story.

Walking up the stairs with my dry towel in hand, I wondered if the couple would say hello. Getting closer, I recognised them. They must be locals? His face was scrunched tightly and his gaze didn’t drift from the small swell as I walked past them. She felt lighter and looked at me with a smile through her blonde hair as I said “good morning”.

Almost back to the car, a young guy came bounding up the path and we both stopped to have the customary “how is it?” chat. I struggle to speak ‘surf talk’ and stumbled and stammered my way through a sentence that would justify why I was still in a t-shirt. He looked at me strangely like I hadn’t really given him the information he was after and then turned to continue his jog towards the ocean.

With my car almost in sight, I heard a voice call out and around the corner came two medium-sized dogs followed by a large-sized man. “Too flat?”, he said with a grin. “Yeah”, I replied, hoping that once he got to the waves he would agree.

The car park had only one other car apart from mine. I wondered how the others had got here? Maybe they all live close enough to walk.

I notice my feet were cold from the autumn sand as I slid my board back into my car. It didn’t rain overnight, but everything around me is damp.

Entering the driveway, I questioned whether I should have just got in the water anyway? There was a small left that was sort of working and even though I struggle with those being regular footed, it would’ve felt nice just to out there even for twenty minutes.

There isn’t anything that comes close to the feeling you have when your board first slaps the water, your feet leave the sand and your hands start to pull you away from the beach. It all feels fake until you duck the first way, your head gets wet and the ocean finds a way to slip in between you and your wetsuit. That is always the moment when you know you have really left the land.

Your first steps back on sand always feel the same. You are back in control. There is plenty of air and fewer surprises. You glance back towards the horizon and it never looks like the place you just were. Back on land, the ocean always looks bigger or smaller, lighter or darker, closer or further than you felt it was only a few moments before.

I’m glad it feels like this. I’m glad that you can’t know the ocean from the land.

Sand falls off my feet as I walk up the stairs towards the bathroom. I turn the shower on knowing that it won’t be one of those after-autumn-ocean showers where your skin is almost too numb to feel the hot water.

I sit down with a coffee and watch and listen to the wind. It’s changed and the waves will be messier now. I wonder if the other guys got in or if they also decided that it wasn’t worth the effort this morning? Maybe they did and caught a few little ones and are home now having a hot shower. But, maybe the didn’t. Maybe they also walked to their cars and homes and said hello to the next person on the path.

Maybe the ocean had a morning to itself and none of us will know what the ocean’s story was today.