Wednesday, 22 January 2014


John Ross ©

                The caravan is parked very close to the beach, and the sound of the waves as they pursue their relentless assault on the land ensured that I had a restful sleep. I am awake as the first faint light on the horizon starts its daily ritual of pushing back the darkness of the night.
                I dress quietly, as to not awaken my still sleeping wife. Breakfast can wait, as I am keen to get onto the beach. My fishing rod is already rigged and all I need to do is retrieve the bait from the refrigerator, pick up my creel and I am on my way.
                Outside the morning is already warm with the promise of a hot, sunny, summer’s day to come. The grass is soft and wet with dew beneath my bare feet as I climb the small tree covered bank on the edge of the beach. I pause at the top to take in the view. The curving sweep of the sand is just visible in the soft light and is outlined by the darkness of the tree clad hills on one side and the long lines of almost luminous white of the breaking waves on the other.
                It is low tide, and as I walk across the sand I marvel at the work of the small crabs that have once again cleared out their burrows, and rolled the small balls of sand out into a pattern around the entrance. The beach resembles a large yellow table laid with intricate lace doilies of every shape and size.
                I am quickly ready for my first cast and as I walk down to the water’s edge I glance behind me. There are no lights, no buildings visible, just lush vegetation reaching down to the edge of the sand: my footsteps, the only foreign marks on nature’s pristine canvas. For a few moments I am the first man, back in a time when the world was new and its beauty untouched.
                My line snakes out, far and true, out to the deep water beyond the breakers where the beautifully streamlined tailor and jewfish live and hunt.
                I stand just back from the water, but am totally connected to and immersed in it. The unceasing sound, the tangy salt smell, the ever changing shape of the waves, my finger on the line feeling the vibrations and pull and push of the swell. The anticipation, expectation of that first tug on the line that is just that little bit different from the normal feel of the water’s movement. Again my mind takes me back to a time when man had to fight nature and the elements to feed himself and survive.
                This is a time to be patient, alert, at one with the line, instinctive, ready to strike: too soon or hesitate and the opportunity is lost.
                A small arc of brilliant light appears on the horizon and a wide path of liquid gold leaps from it to end on the wet sand at my feet. Slowly the huge orb of the sun pushes itself up from its watery grave until its full fury is revealed. I will soon have to retreat to the cool shade of the caravan park.
                The beach starts to come alive. First a lone jogger runs towards me; head bowed, wired for sound, oblivious to the sounds and beauty of the morning. Next an older couple walk hand in hand down to the water’s edge, stand silently and gaze out towards the horizon; they see me watching and we exchange a smile; they are kindred spirits.
                I am thinking of packing up, as breakfast and a hot shower is calling, when I feel that tell tale pull on the line. I wait and count to three and then strike. The jewfish fights strongly, leaping and twisting, sometimes totally clear of the water, its body shiny, silver in the sunlight. It is a battle that lasts for many minutes and a small crowd gathers to watch. Finally the fish is clear of the water, struggling and flapping on the sand. One of the onlookers asks if I am going to have it for breakfast, and for a moment I relish the idea.
                It has been such a magical, renewing morning that has cleared my mind and refreshed my soul that it would be wrong for it to end like that. So with the fish safely returned to the ocean, even though the deep seated hunting instinct within me said that I had earned it, and it was mine, I trudge back up the beach.  I fight my way through the oncoming tide of determined beach goers with their umbrellas, buckets, spades, balls, surfboards, towels and music machines. They will leave footprints, build sandcastles, carve intertwined love hearts on the sand but the next high tide will wash it all away. Tomorrow, at dawn a new day, a new beginning.    
                It is cereal for breakfast and from my wife, ‘What! No fish, again?   


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