Christmas week, down at Altona beach. I have been avoiding exercise for weeks, but that means no quiet time time by the beach either. It is time to get back into my stride.
I park the car for the second time today under a shady tree, and start walking. Immediately I can feel myself relaxing, my stresses blowing away across the water. The tide is far in, although the water level does not vary much in the bay. The sun is shining through wispy clouds.
I power-walk down the boardwalk with Christmas songs playing in my headphones. Tinsel wreaths hang from balconies and I can see Christmas trees in some windows, but no twinkling lights so early in the day. Despite the heat of the evening sun it does not seem incongruous to my northern-hemisphere mind.
I see an entire family of Pacific Islanders (Tongans? Samoans?) sitting chest-deep in the sea chatting and hanging out. On closer observation many of them are literally picking mussels off the rocks and eating them. Now that’s fresh seafood.
I realise that I have been in Australia so long now that, not only can I differentiate between Greeks and Italians much more quickly, but I can usually identify Sicilians at twenty paces.
An elderly man walks towards me in what was clearly a Groucho Marx face mask of glasses, big nose and hairy moustache…. then as he walked past I realised that was his real face.
Young surf lifesavers are out training on their boogie boards and boats. I know how cold that water is, even in summer. I am glad somebody wants to do it.
I walk past a family about to share a big box of fish and chips from the place across the road. As I pass I get that divine waft of hot potato, vinegar and seaside. There is something perfect about that combination.
The kite surfers don’t have a gale-force wind this evening, but they are skimming along at great speeds, somersaulting and perfecting their jumps. Listening to Aled Jones singing “Walking In The Air” seems completely appropriate as I pass by.
Happy Christmas everybody.