22 February 2021

Somewhere

Oh, this could be the end of everything
So why don't we go somewhere only we know?
Somewhere only we know
Somewhere only we know

Keane (2004)

White the sand and sapphire blue the ocean. The bay curves round to the headland  where pigs root in  emerald undergrowth under elegant coconut palms. The trees reach up.  Their crowns are feathery fronds that rustle on the breeze.

There is nobody else on the beach - no one at all. It's always like this at this time of day. Above, wisps of cloud move in slow motion across the endless blue canopy. 

How many centuries and how many tiny fragments of bleached shell and coral have conspired to form this fabulous beach? Uncountable. A hundred yards away, the vast Pacific booms upon the edge of the reef like a chorus of bass drums but here at Mofmanu, there is a gap. You can swim far out if you wish.

I leave "Cannery Row" with my striped towel and paddle beyond the shallows. How kind the water feels. Soon I am swimming with colourful  fishes by the wall of the reef. They dart in and out of the clefts and hollows. Some are alone and others form small shoals that catch the sunlight from above like tiny mirrors. Pieces of a rainbow. I see the arm of an octopus retracting.

As you move further out, the water deepens and the shadowy fathoms beyond the reef soon become the colour of midnight. You feel the muscular contractions of the sea. Please take care. There be sea dragons and the swells could easily dash you against this  abrasive coral.

But it's not a dragon that brushes by me. It's a reef shark - as long as I am. My heart skips a beat but with aerodynamic ease he flicks his tail and moves on - entirely at home in his aquatic universe. I head for shore. Not panicking but nonetheless disturbed. 

My body dries in  late afternoon warmth. There are no ships on the horizon because there never are. Sometimes I think of home but it is so far away that I almost believe I dreamed it. At the far end of the beach, by the promontory, the pigs are now swimming. I can see the silhouette of the boy who unlatched their gate as I head back, leaving footprints in the sand.

19 comments:

  1. Pigs swimming. They love water. Their only way of cooling down. Otherwise they have to roll in wet mud.
    Watch *Spirit of Place - Laurence Durrell's Greece* (YouTube).
    Durrell wrote a travel book about Greece, *Prospero's Cell*; another about Cyprus, *Bitter Lemons*. His last book is about Provence, *Caesar's Vast Ghost*.

    Our French and Spanish teacher was on holiday with his wife in Aix-en-Provence in the 1960s. They saw Durrell sitting at a cafe table in the sun, reading Le Monde.
    My teacher went over and talked to him for quite a time, in French and English.
    Durrell is the writer to read as winter ends.
    Haggerty

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  2. Was this a dream you had YP.. coming out of real Winter or Covid Winter? There is one word that springs to mind to sum up this sensory vision ... Delicious!

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    1. Thank you Elle. It was not a dream but a memory from 1972 or 1973.

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  3. I want to go there YP

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    Replies
    1. The island of Rotuma. Much smaller and more tropical than The Isle of Man.

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  4. Great memory. I wish we could all book a sun holiday. Maybe next year?

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  5. I find it fascinating that in the midst of having a shark as long as you are tall brush against you, you were able to identify it as a reef shark and process the information that they are not considered dangerous. I am a different character I suppose. I would have seen it, done something unspeakable, headed back to shore as quickly as possible. If asked to describe it, I would have said, "I dunno, but he had TEETH. He was BIG!" All things not helpful in assessing actual danger.

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    Replies
    1. I had seen reef sharks before. Very unlikely to attack humans.

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    2. Actual question to me: what kind of snake was it? "It was six feet long and had no legs."

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  6. Replies
    1. Maybe you felt that way occasionally on Cozumel.

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  7. It must have been an amazing experience. Dreamlike. I get nervous swimming in deep water and that reef shark is exactly why! I don't like not knowing what's below me. (Having been raised in the era of "Jaws"!) But I defend sharks overall -- they're just doing their thing and they need protection.

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    1. They also need to visit a dentist to have their teeth removed.

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  8. I'd have to change things a bit for my story, like struggling down the beach on the pebbles and sewage brushing against my legs in the sea. I'm talking about Brighton of course, lol
    Briony
    x

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  9. You've painted a very pleasant picture.

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    Replies
    1. Happy to have taken you there Andrew.

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  10. You write beautifully.

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