Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Captured on the 373 on longline

It's not necessarily summer, but the season is at home on this remote shore. We've made the trek from the distant road side, through the lazy sand dunes with half-buried grasses and rushes bowing before and eternal breeze. There is no path, and our feet sink into the fine dry sand with every set, our balance already compromised by blue eskies and beach chairs and umbrellas. There are no trees for miles so we must bring our own shelter.

It is not a vigorous beach, nor an overly safe one. The waves, a deep jade in the shallows falling into a brittle blue darkness limning the horizon, wash the beach with amiable indifference. Marring the wet sand is a chaotic mess of gull prints, the gulls themselves long gone.

The light is timeless. The concept of night has no place in the noon world. We dig in, alone for hours in all directions, the clinkhiss of open beers sounding before the chairs have been set up. Someone has brought along good speakers, and we dance as we toss picnic blankets and towels down, fumbling for oil-drenched olives in jars with too narrow a mouth and tearing apart fresh crusty loaves to slather with rich chunky dips and chutneys. We are so free here, there aren't even planes in the sky to remind us of the rest of the world.

Our picnic is a feast and we graze heartily. Some of us play beach cricket, badly. Some of us swim out past the break of the waves and paddle quietly, rolling with the fluid surface and seeing no shadows in the water. We wander distant among the dunes, unconcerned about losing each other, finding tiny treasures hidden in the tussocks. Beneath our umbrellas - a bouquet of enormous flowers discarded on the shore for us to hide in - we doze, cradled and nuzzled by the warm, loving air, our dreams lined with salt.

Later, when the long afternoon has tilted gently and drunkenly into an equally prolonged evening, with a sunset shy about the colours it paints with, we fall silent, eyes to that featureless horizon, and wait.

It begins with a flash of light which does not diminish, but grows with a sense of intent, small yet determined, just on the curve of the Earth. It's bright, brighter than any of us, and ponderously slow, it begins to lift from the ground. Watching it struggle, we are aware of gravity as we have never been before, and strain with the rocket to break free, to rise, rise, rise leaving a wake of smoke and lighting up the ocean for miles. Now the sound has finally reached us, a grumble and moan that feel completely unrelated to the miracle before us. This rising star paints the cloud underbelly with a light golden glow before punching through, filling the belly itself with an internal fire, quickly extinguished as the rocket leaves our sky and our world and never once looks back.

It is the first of many. It will be a long night. 

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