Sunday, 15 August 2010
A mother and child's view
Just off the beaten path, close to a jumble of rocks and tussock at the edge of the sea, stands an outcrop of granite. Beaten and weathered and rounded by a thousand storms, cold driving rain, salt spray, and the never ceasing wind. This clump of stone stands fast. Facing the Southern Ocean, constantly watching out to sea. The granite is worn into unlikely shapes, squat rounded forms, cracked and weathered over and over till now they seem like two figures keeping a silent vigil. To some they look like misshapen loaves of bread, to others giant marbles stacked in an unlikely position but to me they look like a mother and her child.
Walking in the late grey dawn of winter, no life on the shore, wind whistling in the rocks, salt spume in the air, I come close and see them there.
"Where are are you my husband?" She seems to say. The child, no arms fashioned from stone, stands close by weeping the salty tears of loneliness. Looking out beyond them to the sea, I too search for a sign that their long lost spouse and father will return. The sea relentless in its boiling way gives no clue or assurance to his whereabouts. Constantly on the move, now grey, green and cold, indifferent, uncaring.
The two figures on the shore now both are crying and I alone mourn with them. Who was he, so mighty perhaps that legend may have wrought these stone relics to ever search for him. Or perhaps he was no more than one, such as you or I, that by cruel fate was torn from his kindred in a simple fishing trip, then sorrow and despair turned even mere mortals to everlasting form.
I go back there often and must confess that I have spoken many times to these remnants of the long lost family.
"Was he a loving man?"
"Did he play with the child?"
"How was he lost so long ago? A storm at sea? A shark perhaps? Was it an argument with his mates that ended in tragedy?"
"Maybe it was his time to be called by the great spirit of land and sea and sky?"
None of my questions are answered, and ignoring me she searches constantly for a sign of him in the waves. Then when she is left alone, she seems to gain comfort by being close to the child figure by her side.
It was during the spring that I last saw her. What a fine day that was. The warm sunshine had brought tiny white flowers to bloom in the grass, the lightest of breezes moved through the air wafting scents of new life around me. The tide was out, far out, and the endless breakers of a few months back were barely visible in the swell.
"Hello," I hailed her like an old friend even though she had never acknowledged me, except to show me her face streaked with dried tears. As I looked at them both they seemed in better spirits. It was probably the sun reflecting from the granite. But no, there was something about the way they stood; it was as though they were leaning forward in anticipation towards the sea.
I looked out too, Beyond the shoreline and I could see what they saw. The swell of the sea, not green but aqua and now deeper blue, The water barely rippling with the light wind showed me why things were different this day.
There it is now, on the low tide just as the swell passes. In the trough I could just see a rounded knob of granite just coming to the surface.
Her man is coming home to them from the sea.
Photo by the author of rocks at Port Elliot, South Australia