Reef

Something woke me up. In the pre-dawn and still half asleep, I dragged myself out of the tent and walked the pindan track down onto the flood plain. The sun was not yet risen but the full moon was setting in the western sky. Climbing to the top of the sand dunes near the lagoon I saw a crest of black out beyond the receded tide. The reef was exposed. The scales were tipping fast, moon setting into the water and a big orange-pink sun bursting up above the horizon. There was no time to deliberate, the tide had already turned. Running down the steep side of the dune, my body trying to catch up to my legs, I crashed onto the soft sand below. Giant sand ripples shaped by the kind tide started to glisten in the orange glow of the sun as it hoisted itself higher and higher. The water’s edge was so far out. Could I walk all the way to the reef? It looked like a narrow band of water separating the sandy shore to the lagoon, but distances can be deceiving. I remembered what Sue said about stomping through the sandy shallows to frighten off any resting rays. Lucky I did, one took off with speed just as I planted my left food down with a thud. I kept asking myself, “Is it alright for me to go out here, am I safe?”. “Yes, yes, yes, hurry!!!” was what I got in response. The water got deeper and deeper, knee deep, waist deep, chest deep… time to swim the final leg. I clumsily dragged myself onto the rocky reef in relief. I’d never been out here before. My company to the left was a flock of wader birds feeding in the shallow rock pools. Walking around this rocky shelf in my pink thongs I felt a sense of guilt hearing the crusty surface crumbling under foot. Then they burst into my view, sponges, corals and sea weeds, in all of their bright colors. Why is it that I needed to see this world to better appreciate it, ingrain it in my consciousness? Rivulets of water, like the fingers of the tide, started to fill the rock pools. Exposed rocks were now fast becoming submerged. I was on a sinking ship. Hopping to the end of the reef I splashed into the channel, pants and shirt ballooning around my body as I breast-stroked back to shore. I picked out two stands of trees on the horizon and swam towards them. I thought the journey back was meant to feel shorter than on the way out. An underlying anxiety that I wasn’t actually moving anywhere crept in and I stroked even harder. I emerged out of the sea a bedraggled creature, saturated with relief. In the distance the silhouette of two figures disappeared into the naked lagoon. On my soggy walk back to camp I disturbed three brolgas ahead of me on the track. They took to flight and headed south, maybe to Buckley Plains. Wallaby, snake and oomung oomung tracks criss-crossed the sandy track. I could see the imprint of my thongs from the the previous night’s guitar serenade walk through the flood plain. This country holds me. I sing to it and its spirit sings to me… no, its spirit sings through me. We are together, how can I separate me from it (even those words imply a separateness)? Edges blur and there is just being with. The sound that emerges from me when I sing here is an expression of energy, essence, flow. Who else is swimming in this flow here in this place? The beauty and joy of connection is recognising one another.

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