The unnerving sound of powdered sand squeaks beneath my bare soles, as if escaping some impinging doom. I quicken my pace across the frightened sand, a chorus announcing my approach to the sea.
It’s 7am on a clouded Sunday morning. The esplanade of Mooloolaba is washed fresh not by this morning’s ocean mist but by last evening’s past down pour. Footpaths and playgrounds slick with its wet.
I approach the water’s edge.
Divided between lands known and the depths of the earth.
Despite the early hour of this entitled, lazy day, the water is dotted with bobbing beige bodies. Surfers paddled out ambitious distances while those who prefer to tread water – rather than concur it – pool around the ‘wave zone.’
I take a prudent step forward.
How cold is it after the night’s rain?
Warm enough, I shrug inwardly, waddling deeper into near diminished waves. Logic quickly gets the best of me, and I forcibly dunk myself under – I’ll have to acclimatise eventually. Beneath the filtered morning light, the sea has transformed to the beautiful dulled green grey of sage, opaque; I can see my feet swirl in circles. The odd flimsy tuff of seaweed passing by.
A way off I can see a raising form, but the wave disperses considerably before I am able to leap through it. I look about me, wondering where to go. A floating confetto of head and shoulders drift twenty meters off to my right, despite the ocean’s longing pull towards land, a floundering breast stroke leads me to this bobbing crew.
Peaks of sun slip through wispy cloud, illuminating us and our liquid hold; a bright reflection highlighting the agitated water. The line from a familiar pop songs chimes ‘bright blue ripples you.’
I can see a roll rising out of nowhere on the horizon, ‘look mate this is going to be a good one,’ a body surfer jests somewhere behind me. The wet wall raises before me, as solid as it is malleable, strong yet penetrable. The white foam of frothed bleach curls overhead before the wave swallows me whole.
Amongst my fellow water treaders.
A false sense of safety.
I placidly allow the wave to take me. Wet giant hands guiding me through joyful childlike summersaults, a deep pull and drag urging me towards the shore.
A paler shade of jade.
Just as quickly I break the surface, eyes stinging with salt. I catch a glance from a crinkled faced topped by a balding monk cap, the man smiles broadly and I answer likewise. A silent response to can we do that again?
Tumble, toss, flip, float over and final wait.
I am drifting. Anticipating the next wave, a comment by Tim Winton rises to the surface of my thoughts. This period of waiting, patience, looking out into the distance for the next wave. This form birthed into existence by a storm at sea two days gone.
For a timeless hour I glide amongst these rolling tides. Attempting once, twice, to escape before giving in – just one more! Soon my eyes sting from the pungent salt, feeling raw and exposed from the repeated bashing – no more! No more!
I retreat reluctantly.
The sun breaks free at last.
I push the windows down driving home. Unwilling to lock the outside away, I breath in the last of the mornings wind. Stinging salt still burning my throat.