A Sandy Beach Almanac

You've landed at Sandy Beach, NSW, Australia: Lat. -30.15331, Long. 153.19960, UT +10:00 – local map & zoom Google map. I live in a cabin on this beach, 25 kilometres north of the traffic and shops of Coffs Harbour, 600 km north of Sydney. My intention is to post observations of Nature and life within 1 km (1,000 paces) of my South Pacific home.


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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Water, whence we wandered

Baz 'Anselm Adams' le Tuff took a wrong turn when he was driving me home from Woopi (Woolgoolga) yesterday, after coffee at the 2nd Bay Cafe, and I was too engaged in conversation with another passenger to say anything. Baz never listens to me anyway, and 40 years of friendship (come August) gives him good cause, I admit.

Anyway, we ended up at the top of Green Bluff, and Monsieur le Tuff ripped on the handbrake, jumped out, and took this great shot, looking down towards Sandy, which is behind the point near the horizon. That's Groper Islet sticking out of the blue, just off Sandy Beach. I must get over there some day; pity I can't swim that far. (Click the thumb to enlarge.)

Later, I went for a quick flaneur in the shallows of Sandy, and felt compelled to drink a little of the water.

Have you ever had the urge, and succumbed? An occasional sip of the Pacific Ocean, any ocean I suppose, is mandatory for health as it has not only strong powers of prophylaxis, but immanent magick as well -- in almost homeopathically small doses. If not indulged in too often, there's no wine, no nectar, no exotic delicacy can compare.

I confess to having a sweet tooth, but a little salt and savory is a welcome part of my diet. When the mood strikes me, I can eat an embarrassingly large number of dillpickles or rollmops, even a bag of pretzels in a sitting, or more olives than I should. But none of them compare to half a mouthful of South Pacific, judiciously imbibed.

In the 19th Century, I was informed recently in an essay by the late and wonderful Stephen Jay Gould, a certain scholar studied the salinity of the sea and from his calculations was able to deduce the great antiquity of our planet. He considered known rates of solubility of solid matter, the volume of the water on the planet, the mass of land, and various other data of his day, to arrive at what was then a revolutionary conclusion.

In those pre-Darwinian times, the chronology put forward long before by Archbishop James Ussher was still widely believed even amongst the intelligentsia, viz, that God created the Earth in 4004 BCE. At 9:00 AM on Sunday, October 23, to be precise. Just before getting the Boy off to Sunday School, I suppose (for we learn from scripture that the Lad existed before the Dad made the People).

The perceptive scientist, whose name I don't recall (and the book is now back in Coffs Harbour Library), didn't make a perfectly accurate estimation of the Earth's age, but his notion that it was a lot greater than six millennia was influential in its time. We owe him a debt for his dipping into the sweet and magickal brine.

As I stood near naked in the lapping warm waters, tasting of them, I was drawn into and beyond the wet and the salt. As I stared to the horizon with the trickle of delicious salty water running down my thankful throat, and as the rush of being alive thrilled every cell of my being, I looked towards, and beyond, Peru. My body, hot as sun, melted into the South Pacific. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes, ocean to ocean, sun to sun, home to home.
Humans are not the end result of predictable evolutionary progress, but rather a fortuitous cosmic afterthought, a tiny little twig on the enormously arborescent bush of life, which if replanted from seed, would almost surely not grow this twig again.
Stephen Jay Gould, RIP


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