Sunday, 22 August 2010
The wind swept over the dunes and blew the fine particles of sand in the air. Beyond the dunes lay the beach desolate now, devoid of birds, people or any other activity save for the relentless breakers roaring in from the ocean. Crashing, pounding, spraying millions of droplets of a fine mist of sea water over everything. Ragged kelp blew along the shoreline, ripped from the ocean bed and tossed carelessly by the sea out of her care. The storm raged on.
The man had ventured out not out of willingness to battle the elements but for the need of his family. The foul weather had lasted for days and the need to gather food was urging him on to combat the elements. He ploughed his way through the tussock that in its uneven growth gave him occasional moments of respite from the gale but the battering returned with full force as his body emerged from the dip in the dunes.
He had to get down to the beach and at least dig for a few shellfish at the waters edge. He carried a digging tool with him fashioned out of an oyster shell. Slung over his shoulder was a rudimentary bag of woven grass. This was his woman's and she, still sickly after the birth of their child was barely nursing the infant on the poor pickings of food that he had gathered these last few days.
He strode now with purpose across the beach blown this way and that, barely able to keep his feet as he approached the shoreline. The waves were angry and moaned with evil intent at his approach. He had played this game before and as he neared the surging foam he crouched down and plied the shell to dig where the wet strand was bubbling with creatures making their presence known safe from the elements. He dug and scooped up the pitifully small shells into his grass pouch. The wind shrieked with annoyance at his bravery and the sea pounded thunderously roaring her anger at his incursion into her territory. More and more shells fell into his bag and he sighed with relief that today they would all eat.
That was his mistake for just the shortest of moments he glanced at his catch and took his mind off the waves and missed the sight of the mighty breaker heading for him and him alone.
"Come to me my brave man. You are wasted on that tranquil land where you know not of true danger. I want you resting in my bosom from whence you came a myriad years ago. You have lost the fight and will forever rest with me."
With that the sea rose up and broke over his pathetically small body and sucked him back into the ocean. No one saw his leave the shore.
The next day, the storm spent, his woman and child ventured forth into a calmer day. She scanned the shore for her man with the infant suckling at her breast. She searched in vain from the rocky outcrop above the beach and cried tears of fear and sorrow. "I will not give up I will search for you till the end of time" she vowed. Maybe she would.
Photo by Dr. Dénes László