Today, Miss was being plagued by a grouchy stomach, and left school early and we tried everything to try to get her through her afternoon nursing TAFE course and off to ballet tonight. It didn’t work, but here are some photos taken from our short walk along the beach. I’d hoped a bit of sunshine, vitamin D stretching her legs and the sea air might make a difference. An eternal optimist, I will keep trying.
However, before we head off to the rocks, I wanted to set the scene and share a few views of the bigger picture.
Anyway, we came across a few uplifting words on rocks, and thought I’d pass them on. I hope they give you a bit of a smile.
What with living only 10 minutes walk from the beach, you’d think we’d be down there everyday trying to carpe diem seize the day – especially at the moment during the peak Summer holiday period, where even our dog is sunning herself for hours out in the midday sun. Indeed, this is when all the ring-ins descend on the beach like “plagues of locusts”, as though they own the place. Clearly, if the crowds are any indication, the beach is where we’re supposed to be (although social distancing, of course, this year!)
However, just because we live near the beach, doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on with the realities of life just like everyone else. There’s going to work, school, and our endless battle with trying to sort out, maintain and renovate our house and garden. On top of that, there are the personal crises which affect most families from time to time and despite all the advise to take time out for self-care, it’s very hard (at least for me) to fight my fixation on the problem and a need to get it sorted, which isn’t going to happen if I’m swanning down the beach.
Moreover, this Summer has been uncharacteristically cool, and we’ve also experienced frequent heavy rain. While there are some who still feel the need to get outside even in the rain (and they often have a dog or two in tow), I don’t like get wet at the best of times and being rained on is just plain yuck.
Yet, at the same time, there’s still been enough sunny days to at least encourage me to go for a swim, for Geoff and I to go for a walk, and maybe even the four of us to venture along the beach as a family. That is, if we could actually hit our teenagers over the head with a baseball bat so they don’t mind being seen down at the beach with mum and dad…HOW EMBARRASSING!!
Yet, sometimes, you just need to be forceful. Make it happen.
Finally, Geoff and I actually made if over to Patonga Beach, a 15 minute drive away, and walked along the beach and rocks together where we could soak up each other’s company, and also immerse ourselves in such natural beauty. I really love walking along the rocks, and even though I’m now 51 and have well and truly outgrown my spade and bucket, I still remember going exploring through the rockpools with my dad as a kid, and my incredible delight at finding little crabs and shells. Indeded, even now, exploring the rocks reminds me Keats’ immortal poem: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men Look’d at each other with a wild surmise— Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
What really struck me about visiting the rock platform at Patonga, was the swirling pattern in the rocks. As Geoff pointed out, the swirls were created as the sandstone was being deposited, seemingly by the ocean currents. We don’t know. We’re not geologists, but we do have inquiring minds. So, if any of you are any wiser and know how these swirls got into the rock, we would love to know.
I have spent years climbing over rocks at the beach. Back when my parents used to have a place at Whale Beach, I used to spend hours down there by the myself, and I’d go down on to the rocks and watch the furious encounters between land and sea. I’d sit on this massive rock, which jutted out into the waves like a mini headland and the waves crashed out the front and swooshed up the side. It was very spectacular, and I almost felt consumed by the ocean, I was that close.
I almost always walk over the rocks in bare feet. Of course, it feels very footloose and fancy-free. Indeed, feeling the sensation of the rough sandstone underfoot, the discomfort of stepping onto those pokey blue periwinkle shells which jab into your feet, is such a sensory experience. It’s just not the same in shoes where your feet can’t see, feel or even breathe it all in. it is as real as real can be especially with the sea breeze slapping your hair into your face. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind at all. I’m fully and completely alive.
It’s interesting too, because each beach is unique. They might look similar, but each and every beach has its own fingerprint embedded in the sand and surf, and it’s own soul bellowing out through the waves and making its presence felt. You can even drive from one beach to the next around here, and the motion of the waves, the action and intensity of the surf, and the nature of the rocks all vary. You could never get bored. Or, at least you shouldn’t. There’s always so much to explore and absorb and it’s all different.
It’s not often Geoff and I go to the beach together. I’ll blame him for that. He goes sailing most Saturdays, and is more of a flat water soul. I enjoy going to the beach, but not when it’s really sunny and I’m likely to fry like an egg and just get burned. I also enjoy sailing, but more on my Dad’s bigger yacht or going out on the kayak. I don’t know how to sail the laser myself.
The other trouble Geoff and I have is trying to find some spare time. Time is constantly going up in smoke, and although our kids are teenagers, they still take up a fair bit of time and emotional energy, and are more likely to need us spontaneously. Indeed, that’s why they have the mobile phones. It’s not so we can keep track of them. It’s so they can keep us on a constant leash…”Taxi!”
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
However, it’s also important for Mum and Dad to have time together and not just so-called “quality time”, which to me is the biggest cop out ever. From where I sit, it’s very hard to have true quality time if you don’t spend enough quantity time together. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for just sitting a long side someone for awhile, and simply going fishing or going for a drive. By spending time together, you gain a sense of the whole person, and not just a series of disjointed snapshots. You can tell a few stories, and create a few as well. Indeed, being close to someone is being able to read them like a book. I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I don’t just speed read from cover to cover. I usually read with a pen in hand and underline my favourite bits. Indeed, I also read in between the lines. After all, good writers don’t spell everything out for us in the text, especially when it comes to poetry. (Humph! No wonder I haven’t read many books lately!) WE have to go looking.
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ― Anais Nin
Meanwhile, Geoff and I were looking at going out for dinner tonight. However, most of the local venues are closed tonight and the weather’s a bit blah. So, we’ve ordered takeaway instead. Now that the house is looking better, it’s much more relaxing to eat at home and we’ll head out for lunch when we’re in Newcastle tomorrow.
How to you juggle relaxation, relationships and the never-ending to-do list? Have you been for any great beach walks or activities lately? I’d love to hear from you!
Here I am sitting on the rocks at Whale Beach watching the waves literally explode as they smack against the rocks. It is hard to describe their incredible force, bursting like fireworks and then cascading through the cracked and creviced rock platform down below and returning back to the sea.
Multitasking out here is absolutely impossible. It’s a case of either write or take photos. I can’t do both. Damn! The frustrations of an imperfect world!
So let me rewind just a little and look through the lens instead of the pen.
The waves are taunting and teasing me. Luring me close with their smashing, violent force only to recede and disappear and fade into a gentle rolling lull. Talk about utter frustration!
Not that these efforts were ever going to be about achieving the perfect shot…getting the big one! The light’s all wrong. It is almost dark and this is a time of low light and shadows. These photography efforts are more a case of just trying the capture the moment as it is and I guess with a hope of coming back at a better time. I’d also like to “play it again Sam”. I was mesmerised by it all. Not just the visuals but also the symphony of sound as the waves beat and whooshed around the rocks and into the cavernous depths below. I would love to share this experience with the world even in its imperfection because it was just so powerfully beautiful and moving. Moreover, the turbulence of the waves somehow reflected some of my inner unrest and the knowledge that I have a hell of a fight on my hands. My journey is currently very intense.
Trying to photograph the waves reminds me of surfing…not that I’ve had a lot of experience on the front. Aside from getting the light right and choosing a good subject, timing is critical. You have to press the button at precisely the right moment or ideally just that microsecond beforehand to compensate for that barely perceptible time lag between the subject and the lens. Timing has never been my strength. In fact, today I wouldn’t even say I ran late. I went AWOL…off the grid…beyond time. Bought myself another watch and I’m hoping that will help. Ro without a watch doesn’t stand a chance!!
In the end, I found myself trying to read the waves to better predict the big ones in advance. While this all sounds like I know what I’m doing, I’d probably have better luck trying to read its palm. I’m no seasoned surfer who lives and breathes with the waves. I can’t even spot a rip. Moreover, although I’ve been spending a lot of time at my parents’ place on the Pittwater side, that’s flat water. There’s barely a ripple.
Yet, while I mightn’t be kind of enlightened wave-watching expert and interpreter, that didn’t stop me from trying. Even though the light wasn’t anywhere near perfect, I still wanted that shot. Every single muscle and cell is primed and on red alert and I was poised on the rocks with my camera in position like that stalking, lurking cat about to pounce on a mouse. I’m watching waiting, observing all those very subtle signs as the water surface curves and tightens but then swells and falls. Of course, the big one doesn’t come while I’m fixated, camera poised. I wait and wait and wait.
As I said, photographing the waves is like surfing. Surfers seemingly sit on their boards for eternity waiting for the big one to come and now I was doing the same!
Waiting is also a big part of photography…huge!
The waves go quiet. There’s absolutely no action whatsoever so I decide to swap my camera for my notebook and pen. In this instance, my notebook is made of paper. It’s pad not a computer.
Of course, now that I’m writing and I’ve packed up my camera, a huge, ginormous waves smashes against the rocks and water shoots up like lava from an exploding volcano. Whoosh!
I am in such awe of its raw, unbridled energy and power. I have always loved watching the waves feeling that all that energy somehow mirrors the raw, turbulent energy thrashing around in my soul. I’ve never been one of those chilled out peaceful types. Definitely, a woman of passion!
Wave hits just as I’m taking a selfie.
Many years ago, I spent hours sitting on these same rocks when my parents had a place across the road from the beach. Back then, I also photographed the waves somehow trying to freeze all that energy and power in 6 x 4. I had a favourite spot… my rock…where I used to contemplate and photograph life, the universe and everything. Indeed it was on this rock that I met a special friend and I was visiting her this afternoon for a healing massage, a chat and very much a merging of souls. She has the most amazing kindness and is such a giver. Such an amazing giver and at this point, I have just absorbed her great kindness as a healing gift. She even gave me a sunflower plant not knowing that I’d written about being the seed a few days ago. Not knowing that I am intending to give my children a sunflower seed so they can think about how they are going to grow and develop this year in themselves (that was in response to astronaut Chris Hadfield’s comments mentioned in a previous post). We are also going to plant some sunflowers and watch them grow. Sunflowers have always been my flower and I’d also written a poem called Sunflower back in my 20s that was one of my signature poems. My friend knew nothing about all these sunflower connections when she gave me the plant. It was so very obviously mean to be. After this fairly amazing time with her, I just felt drawn to go back to the rock where we’d met and complete the process. That’s what took me back to Whale Beach.
After the crash, the waves flow over the rocks like spillt milk.
Anyway, as I said, I have spent many, many hours sitting on these rocks. Back in 1997, I at on these rocks while recovering from brain surgery wondering when but more likely if I would ever get better. It really looked doubtful that I would ever get my old life back again. The road back to so-called “normal” was just way too steep…an insurmountable climb!
All the quirks and idiosyncrasies of my hydrocephalus haven’t left me entirely but they have virtually disappeared and I can usually compensate for my remaining weaknesses.
This gives me much hope that we will contain and manage this lung disease and that I will heal…at least enough!
It is a huge leap of faith and very, very scary for me to step out and put my hand out and say: “Please God, heal my lungs and save my life.” Yet, God is my father. He loves me. At the same time, I know that he doesn’t always intervene and we all have to die one day.
You could say this is a bit of an aside and yet it’s not. While I’ve been savouring the absolute beauty here, I’ve also been stepping over cigarette butts stubbed out against the rocks and left behind. It is so hard for me to comprehend how anybody could light one of those cancer sticks consciously and actively destroying the very same lungs I’m fighting tooth and nail to save. These same morons are also littering the environment.
We live in a strange world.
I put down my pen and return to my camera opting to film the wave instead. As much as you want to freeze the wave in 6 x 4, a wave is a living, breathing, and above all else moving experience. It’s not static.
It’s like picking a wildflower and sticking it in a vase. You’ve destroyed what it is. Its spirit has gone.
A wave doesn’t sit still.
I drove home.
It was low tide and I took the dog down onto the mudflats for a walk. After being so absorbed in the turbulent even aggressive surf at Whale Beach, Pittwater was so completely serene almost standing still with just the smallest of ripples caressing the surface. It was so peaceful.
I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the two. Pittwater reminded me of a Bible passage I have struggled with for many, many years: “Be still and know that I am God” while at Whale Beach I could hear Christ’s impassioned plea from the cross: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” Pittwater is only round the corner from Whale Beach symbolic perhaps that peace is only round the corner when we’re feeling all consumed by troubled times. Relief isn’t far away.