Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside...

I did think of waiting for the weekend to pass and posting an update after the 29th so I could pretend that no, a whole year had not passed since I last blogged. But the urge struck, and I thought, best to just go with it. So here I am, going with it.

I've just returned from two weeks by the sea. I spent some happy, squinty hours on the beach, watching the dumpy surf pick up my niece and nephew, sometimes tackling them, engulfed in a swirl of foam and sand, sometimes swelling up under their tiny bodies and boogie boards to deliver them, shrieking with delight, all the way to the shore. My youngest nephew, too little to tackle the surf on his own, was content dig-dig-digging the damp sand, and diving chest-first into single-bucket sandcastles as quickly as we could unmould them.

We found a flatter beach on the second-last day, and even though it was going to be a scorcher, the possibility of close encounters with local sea-dwellers had us camped on the narrow beach before midday. Wading out to hip-depth, I watched as my husband attempted a swim to the sandbar out ahead of us; the flatness on top of the water concealed a current. I watched as he drifted further and further to the right, then out of my field of vision. I quelled the predictable panic, and seconds later he appeared at the top of the stairs we'd used earlier to access the beach; "That undertow is strong!"

I love the different shades of blue the seaside showcases. At the dumpy beach, the waves rising and cresting in the distance took on an opaque opal brightness just before they crashed into froth; bands of teal and aqua and ultramarine between there and me till the swirl of muddy brown at my feet, retreating to crystal-clear, anchoring me deeper and deeper into the wet sand till I'm happily stuck, watching schools of fish dart back out to deeper water, invisible but for their sleek shadows.

The flat beach offered moodier tones than the dumpy one, starting off clear and descending quickly into inky-blue darkness. I watched neat clumps of seaweed glide past under the surface, sailing neatly around our legs as if steered, little islands on the move to somewhere specific. The small beach, empty but for the two of us and a young family of four, was the perfect contrast of brisk water and scorching sand. As we stood side by side, looking out to the patch of black where the sea floor dropped away, a strange thing happened. A piece of the blackness separated from the rest; a patch the size of our dining table. It broke away and began slowly, deliberately gliding toward us. This was not the shadow of a kite; it was a local resident. A stingray. We followed in awe as it glided past us, and away.

Apparently stingrays are quite common in the area, though I still feel  little glow when I think about it. Like I've been let in on some sort of secret.

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