Friday, December 18, 2015

A Different Language (written last week, sans internet)

My phone is out of credit and charge, and the sound of the sea is loud in my ears, a gentle lulling on the shore. This week we have spent down by the shore, and I’ve been thinking of what a different language it is.

Tidal, rock pool, fish, wave, low-tide, blue ringed  octopus, crab, snake, light-star, maelaluka, sandcastle, welcome swallow, gull, coastal, south-westerly, mist, horizon, wave crest. toadie, sunrise, ripples, flotsam, tern, white faced heron, hooded plover, cuttlefish, mermaid’s necklace, stingray, barnacle, periwinkle.

We swam today, and I strode out with my babe on my hip and my boy lunging in front, and as the waves broke around my waist, there was a whole set of waves before me, caught as green glass in the light of the sun, full of dozens of grey fish the length of my forearm. And the next set, and the set after that, were all full of the same grey fish. There was a shoal of hundreds of fish just before us, cresting in on the waves, then turning back, for they never came nearer to us.

The currents of the water changed from warm to cool and back again, and the colours changed too, greens and blues, deeps and pales, jades, emeralds, sapphire and turquoise and in moments of still the water was so clear we could see the play of light on the sand around our feet.

My babe gave her wicked-witch cackle, the one signalling world-domination is on the agenda, as I lowered us into the water and we eased over the unbroken waves, my boy looked in delight at the many fish caught in the sun’s light, the water’s hold.

This week charged, internet, email, data, netflix, spotify, facebook, have all been put on hold. My internet connection has been patchy, the kids have had to ask their grandparents for the odd sighting of Emma, from the Wiggles, the babe’s first TV craze.

We’ve walked into the nearest town – my dad saw a snake. I have spent hours, and hours, stalking small fish in rock pools with Adventure Boy, finally capturing one luckless toadie, Adventure boy lifting him from the net to carefully study him, only to release him, to tell me how the toadie is ‘best friends’ with Crabby, Adventure Boy’s dear, scuttling, marine friend from Gippsland days.

I’ve had ample time to study the stars of light on the sandy pool floors, the currents, the fluid movement of the fragments of seaweed, the various strategies of the tiny inhabitants – the crabs hiding under rock shelves, the small sand coloured fish dependent on camouflage, the shoals of tiny silver fish staying determinedly away from rocks where predators lurk.  

I remember times I spoke this language so much better. Times when I spent months on end down here, without phone, TV, internet. Just me, the sea, and the payphone down the end of the street. I look back on that girl with nostalgia.

I think I’d like to learn that language again.

There is so much that I’ve forgotten, so much that I’d like to teach the kids.

I suppose this week is a start.


  1. We are off after Christmas to spend a week by the ocean in our caravan. It's something we used to do when our biggest two were small, we'd travel up & down the east coast for weeks at a time. That was before smart phones, Internet & all that other stuff that takes up time & headspace. When we head off this time, our first in a a caravan as a family of 6 ( plus one extra!), I'm planning to be screen free. No internet or tv for any of us. I've got books & crochet & card games to keep me busy. Not to mention two toddlers !! I'm really looking forward to it :)

    I hope you spend time relearning those things you love so much X

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