Sea gulls dip and soar around my head while the miniature plovers scurry away on their tiny, spindly legs, allowing me a wide birth along the sand dunes. I feel the curiosity of my larger feathered friends around me; sandpipers, tattlers, oystercatchers. The darting swallows and willy-wagtails seem more nervous as though they, too, are wondering what the new change means.
It is important that I am here early today – I need to see the sun rise over the ocean; I need to sense the difference.
You see, they opened the lake yesterday.
By ‘they’ I mean the powers-that-be, our local council, in one big mother of an excavator. It was a real ‘event’ here in the sleepy national park where we live, the monster machine clawing at volumes of sand, dragging it away from the entrance; opening the lake to the sea. Many rushed to see it. I was invited, but declined.
I preferred to come down this morning, when the machine, the noise and the workers are long gone; and the curious hoards have returned to their homes and are more than likely, now, still snoozing in their beds.
It’s not about politics for me; I’m neither pro nor anti the council opening the lake through man-made efforts. I know of places where nature is left free to take its course and the lake waters cut off from the sea become putrid and stink to high heaven. It can smell like a sewer with the sun beating on stagnant waters. So, personally, I don’t hold a view per se, I simply want to experience the moment in my own private way… sensing how the ocean feels about it – not how my fellow man perceives the change. I need to catch the vibe of the sea.
I’m stunned at first. I stand still and quiet; listening, watching, waiting…. My normally pristine beach doesn’t look dissimilar to a battle zone. In stark contrast to the welcoming aqua waves that normally greet me by gently lapping at my toes, this morning’s ocean seems angry. Messy, brown waves hurl onto the shore, the stagnant putrid lake water gathered throughout the night, frothing up dirty grey foam and spitting out miniscule bluebottles by the thousands, as if in spite. Smashing and hammering the sand, waves litter the beach with moulding, plastic drink bottles, crushed and rusting soft drink cans and even a dangerous, glass-encased, florescent-light tube. Mess. Debris. Logs and sticks. Bluebottles and cuttlefish. Broken bits of shell and volcanic rock. Leaves and seaweed. All entangled, encased, ensnared in the frothing grey foam.
Even the sky seems to be taking on the dark mood, with clouds above me as thick and grey as the foam at my feet. The sun is obscured – deemed obsolete.
I find myself on a mission. It is important for me to clamber around the debris and get to the lake, despite the bluebottles sticking under my bare feet in the gooey, thick sand and the dirty foam rising up my ankles.
I wait. Eager to feel the impact. The lake seems to tell a different story. The lake seems happy. The waves are entering in and the lake seems to be sighing in delight, lapping them up. Seems to be relishing the refreshing, clear water. Contentedly allowing the waves to drain it of its debris and flow fresh new life into it. The lake’s sandy walls seem to be breaking away, little by little, hungrily widening the gap for the waves to come and play again after its months of stillness. Welcoming waves, bringing bubbly life. The lake is loving it!
I feel the energy. The surging waves releasing the lake of its pent up frustrations. I take a deep breath. The lake has room to breathe. Energy. Life.
It is normally just me and God on these walks…. along with the sea and the birds, and this morning is no different. God is with me. There is a tangible peace.
I sense the contrast between the ocean and the lake. I recognise nature’s dependence on balance. The lake is being made free. The ocean may not like it for a time, but it is doing its job. Bringing refreshment to a place desperately starved.
It may take a week, or even two, but before long the mess will become less. The waves will return to their sparkling blue, deep green and inviting aqua again.
Strange objects will come adrift on other less likely shores – a red toothbrush, the green asthma puffer, the tiny tube of pink lip gloss and maybe even a young lad’s green, plastic, toy army tank. Maybe.
This battle zone will become a pristine natural wonder again. Clean sand and clear water.
Come Spring time, children will be found splashing playfully in the gentle waves. Canoers and kayakers will scull easily from lake to sea on the changing tides. Fisher-folk will stand in the gap, casting out long lines, hoping for a bite, or two.
The machinery’s tyre-tracks will quickly be forgotten, washed over by a million waves; covered by myriad grains of sand.
Spring will bring with it sunshiny days and balmy evenings. All will be well with the world.
I’m content. I can feel the pulse of nature, breathing in, breathing out. Alert to the changes. Necessary changes. Watching, waiting, sensing what is to come.
I allow myself to experience the emotion before turning into the bush where I am quickly told-off loudly by a lone large black cockatoo separated temporarily from his flock, awaiting his next chance to announce coming rains. I pass a curious, yet lazy, mob of complacent kangaroos, who contentedly watch me pass before getting back to keeping the grass down to a reasonable level under the tall gum trees. Tiny, flitting, native birds; finches, blue wrens, even a pair of whip birds foraging the forest floor, protest at my trespassing.
Finally I return to Buzz, our technicolour van, filled with love, joy and happy vibes… with a tiny, green plastic toy army truck tucked into my left hand.