Reacquainting

While I’ve been away, there has been a great deal of rain, and the swamp that this dirt road aims to bisect is reasserting itself.

Of course the swollen swamp needs to flow across the road, and has succeeded in closing that road while the water follows its natural course.

The road leads to the beach, so my feet are wet before I get there, but what a lovely set of early morning reflections!

The sun is already up when I reach the sandhills… and a 4WD has already despoiled the night’s tide marks on the sand.

This beach rarely has shells washed up, and it is only in a small stretch that today I see them scattered like tiny treasures for me to find.

Walking home, wading through the reasserted swamp, I see two trees are newly flowering since I was away. This small wattle (Acacia suaveolens) has blossoms of a pretty creamy white, not the yellow we are used to. It is one of the earliest flowering wattles.

Equally sparkling white are the flowers of this Broad-leaved Paperbark tree, Melaleuca quinquinervia, common on this stretch. Being a swamp dweller, it does not mind wet feet.

Early rising

While I used to easily see dramatic sunrises on my Mountain, here I am more likely to catch the gentle pearly colours of early morning clouds, or the mist rising above the mangroves to blanket the mountain on its way to join those clouds.

Reflections in still water are an added bonus.  I spot a solitary pelican sedately cruising over the glassy surface.

And then maybe it sees me, because it takes off with long deep flaps of those massive wings. And, always amazingly to me, that heavy body becomes airborne.

I apologise to it for disturbing the peace, and for perhaps causing its early rising.

Beach bounty

Not being a fan of bright summer sunlight and blue skies, I go early to the beach near me. My mate Fred shares The Cloud Appreciation Society newsletter with me each month and I have to agree with them that clouds are far more interesting than cloudless skies!

If I am lucky the clouds part just enough for those angels up there to take a peek, shining a spotlight on the restless sea below.

At other times the clouds part in a less focused way, to light up a patch of sea and reflect in the wet sand. Light is always more interesting when paired with darkness or dullness.

But looking down and up close is just as interesting.

If I’m sitting long enough, the sand itself can reveal fascinating sights. Like this portrait of a hairy big-eyed creature… made by busy crabs…and birds?

The tiny crabs move fast when they detect any motion nearby, to disappear down their burrows. I wonder how they keep the sand out of those eyes on stalks?

Sea shapings

Boxed rocks with green velvet and creamy fillings, tightwaisted sand escapees… nature’s gallery of shapes so varied I never tire of looking.

Reminding us that shells are not fixed decorations, but meandering muscles with sun protection homes on their backs, these whelks and limpets have created their own patterns as they wait for the rising tide to refresh and cool them.

More ephemeral, sun and water make their own rippling rings of light.

The tide that went out has left endless versions of sand art, etched in line drawings and moulded into soft sculptures.

Some form escarpments and runnelled foothills, carve and capture pools and lakes.

Others twist into fancifully embossed tails of Art Nouveau.

Elaborate minarets from Arabia? Or a curving creature with snub nose and dragon spine?

Each tide will leave a different set of artworks, shaped from all different directions by the sea.

Cause for wonder, cause for gratitude…

Seashore spot colours

At last I managed to be at this rock platform at low enough tide to see its treasures. It’s Wash House Beach near Camden Head.

Beaches are cream and brown; rock platforms are that too, but with extra arrays of greens and pinks… and some surprising spots of vivid colour, like these shy red starfish.

One very bright red slash caught my eye; it moved… a bird. Then it doubled.

Two Sooty Oystercatchers, glossy black, unmistakable with those red eyes, legs and bill, poking their way like automatons across the cunjevoi-covered rocks.

Amongst the pretty underwater garden plants a single orange ‘finger’ was waving; attached, was it a slug or… ?

Bigger and brighter orange splashes showed in the lichen on rocky crevices nearer the sea. This one was home to the only sea urchin I saw.

Blue was also present. Below the galeolaria sea worm casings these clusters of pale blue were attached. They reminded me of shellback ticks…I touched one with the back of a fingernail and it felt soft… not hard like a barnacle.

And blue there certainly was in this sole bluebottle jellyfish, stranded by the tide, looking more like a plastic bath toy than the giver of very painful stings I recall from childhood. Occasionally there would be mass beachings of them, and their long stinging tentacles were not always visible to us kids hopping amongst them.  We learnt!