One day

Other people’s words about … the sea

After lunch, as a reward for their fine behaviour, Nurse allowed them to bundle into coats and hats and bolt from a back door along a path that ran behind Mr Styles’s house to a private beach. A long arc of snow-dusted sand tilted down to the sea. Anna had been to the docks in winter, many times, but never to a beach. Miniature waves shrugged up under skins of ice that crackled when she stomped them. Seagulls screamed and dove in the riotous wind, their bellies stark white. The twins had brought along Buck Rogers ray guns, but the wind turned their shots and death throes into pantomime.

From ‘Manhattan Beach’
by Jennifer Egan

I have never been to a beach in the kind of winter that Jennifer Egan describes in the passage above. Many years ago, in Michigan, I walked across a frozen lake (and thereby learnt the meaning of the term ‘wind chill factor’), but that was a lake, not the ocean. I’d like to experience that wild, violent chill, just once in my life.

The beach I know and live by has its own seasons of peace and restlessness. Often, the early months of Autumn are times of softness and stillness, and this past April there were several days when the sea lay like blue, shining silk on a bed of sand.

I took the photos in today’s post one evening around sunset in the first week of April.

As you can see, my coastal world is utterly unlike Egan’s, but there is wildness at its essence, all the same.

Out and about: the last summer days

‘When you’re walking the view shifts and changes.
Walking’s a form of hope.’

from ‘The World Without Us
by Mireille Juchau

 

Here’s the thing I always forget as summer draws to a close and the annual grey-weather dread steals over me: there are moments, at this time of year, when the wind drops, and the sea becomes shining and silken and blue.

I took the photos in today’s post as I wandered the beach at Largs Bay one afternoon a few days ago, in the week before Easter. The day was so still, and the tide so low, that the pine trees along the Esplanade were reflected in small pools of seawater that had formed between the sandbar and the main ocean …

… and out on the water, ships hung suspended in blueness, somewhere between sea and sky:

It was an afternoon that reminded me that there’s joy and beauty in every season — yes, even in the seasons you’d rather not be heading into …

Autumn sun

April 2016

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In the Northern Hemisphere, they call it Indian summer:
a hot, dry start to Autumn.
That’s what we had here last month —
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— warm, sunny days.
Still nights.
No rain.
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In the scrub,
dry twigs crackled beneath my feet,
and the odd flower bloomed.
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Winter stole closer,
like afternoon shadows
creeping across sandy ground.
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Daylight robbery

On Saturday afternoon, I went for a quick stroll on the beach,
shoring the sights up in my memory — and the warmth on my skin — of the last hours of Daylight Saving.

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It was a typical mid-Autumn day.
Windy.
Half-sunny.
Half-dull.

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The sand was wind- and water-rippled.
The gulls’ footprints seemed to blow away as I watched.

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Soon, when I walk on the beach, I’ll wear shoes, socks, a coat, a beanie.
I’ll call the wind ‘bracing’.
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I’ll think of this last long day of light with yearning.
Summer nostalgia — is there a cure?
There should be!

Note:
Okay, a confession: autumn makes me crotchety. I’ll get over it soon, I swear!

The drooping sheoak

Allocasuarina verticillata

I’ve talked about drooping sheoaks before.

They’re one of the commonest trees in the scrub near our house south of Adelaide, and right now, they’re in flower.

The male flowers are golden:

The female flowers are smaller, and turn into cones:

You can’t ignore the sheoaks in the scrub,
whether you look down at the needles and cones they shed on the sandy floor …

… or up at the canopy:

Ubiquitous, perhaps?
Spiky?
Inelegant?
All of those things, perhaps.
I love them, though.
They’re one of my favourite trees.

Wandering through the wetlands

I live between two houses — one north of Adelaide, one south.
Both are within walking distance of the beach.
Because of this, I often blog about coastal things: the sand and the sea.

Pacific black ducks
Pacific black ducks

But not far from our house down south there are wetlands.

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Some days I see Eurasian coots there:

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Some days I see Pacific black ducks:

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The birds squabble and fight amongst themselves, honking and quacking and ruffling their feathers and bobbing beneath the water.

The water is reedy but clear …

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… and sun-dappled.

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Water always brings me a sense of peace.
And awe.

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An ending and a beginning

Around Anzac Day here in South Australia, the daily temperature dips, the skies cloud over and the days shorten.

Autumn! It’s arrived.

Australian native trees are mostly evergreens, so any show of red or golden leaves comes from exotic trees. Autumn can seem a little … subdued. Gloomy. Like a dying away.

But not quite. A couple of weeks ago, in my garden, I noticed this:

Buds.

There will be flowers again soon.