Thursday, 21 August 2008


There are several different worlds here in Adelaide, all existing in the same time but each having features unique from all the others. Today, as usual, I went to the beach and I want to take you to MY beach world as it was, another world. As I left my mother's house, having picked up her dog to come with me for my walk, it began to hail; not just softly and sweetly but wildly and ferociously. As I waited to drive out onto the main road, the car was buffeted with a westerly gale and lashed with hailstones that my windscreen wipers could barely remove. I said out loud to Sandy, the little dog, "What a great day for the beach!" I heard the thump of her tail....any day is a great day for the beach as far as she is concerned.

As we parked the car on the sea front the sun came out, but I could see rain falling out at sea and also to the south...we'd have to be quick. The wind was so blustery I got fully dressed in my jacket, headband (for my ears) and beanie, took off my shoes and rolled my pants up to my knees and put my mobile in my pocket before emerging from the car. As we walked off down the ramp I looked south to check the progress of the huge band of rain sweeping in from the sea and judged we had maybe 15 minutes until the first showers. We strode out across the wide beach, with the thunderous sound of the waves crashing in to the shore about 20 metres away. Sand was blowing in sheets along the beach, cutting my legs as if with ice, and little Sandy had trouble making much headway and wasn't enjoying have sand filling her eyes. But we are both rugged souls and both started to run to get the shore where the dampness of the sand stops it blowing away and so is less cutting.

Froth was being hurled up the beach, as each wave arrived with a thump on the shore, and Sandy started chasing it. The wind picked up and we were literally blown along. As usual I walked in the sea all the way, avoiding the biggest of the waves as they threw the sea up the beach, and my feet felt fantastic....until they became numb. The white of the turbulent sea, the white of the clouds  and the glare from the sand made me feel like I was in the snow, because also the cold of the wind was extreme and froze my face as it does when you step out of a warm lodge into the cold early morning in the mountains.

Only once a year, if that, am I lucky enough to be at the beach on a day like this. It is a rare treat. It is exhilarating and wild and I feel free and wonderful. Others don't venture to the beach on these days so it has the added beauty of being totally deserted and Sandy and I can skip and shout and laugh like crazy and we do. Soon the drops of rain began to get heavier and the back of my pants were feeling damp so we stood under the jetty for a moment and watched the waves crash against the pylons and send spray up onto the top of the jetty walkway. The showers passed and we turned to head back before that big black cloud further south had time to swamp us. It was hard to walk against the wind and it made my eyes water with the cold and I put my hands, now with gloves on, in my pockets. My toes were white by now but this is all part of the walk.

To feel with every one of your senses at once is a magical thing and by closing your eyes you can intensify the feelings of the other senses and hear more and feel every interaction your skin has with the earth around you. Suddenly you feel the wind changing direction on your face, you feel the sea coming and going on your feet and ankles, you hear the waves sucking out and crashing back in, you feel the texture of the sand on the soles of your feet and smell the sea and salt in every breath as well as feel the chilly air in your nostrils as you breathe in and the warm air as you exhale. You feel the wind sneaking in under the beanie and are aware of it around your neck and on your lips. Every part of every cell of my body seems to be stimulated and revels in just being alive, at such times. This is why I love the cold.

Altogether we walked for about 40 minutes, after all, and we ran up the beach as the black cloud began to drop its load. As we both leapt unceremoniously into the car, it began to pour and the wind howled even more. To me, it was a day made in heaven.

This post should be in Outside the Square and I will put it there too, but it is about connecting with the real world, the natural world and I thought that was what this blog was all about, really.


chaiselongue said...

This sounds fantastic, Kate, but I'm a bit of a wimp and I'd prefer my own visit to the sea today, when I swam in the warm Mediterranean! Lovely to read your description of rougher, colder conditions though. Looking forward to seeing you here soon - but I'm not sure the sea will still by so warm by the time you get here!

Ian said...

Kate....What a fantastic description of your walk on the beach...Thank you, I could imagine I was right there with you in the icy wind even though I'm in the middle of a Mediterranean summer right now. I love the beach in winter and, in fact, rarely go there in summer, unless I'm taking visitors. I'm looking forward to seeing you here soon as well, although I can't promise hail and snow on our Atlantic beaches for you.