I’ve just returned from spending the Easter long weekend at our family holiday house down at Phillip Island. At least once every visit I like to walk into town (Cowes) along the beach for breakfast. And every time I make this little half-hour pilgrimage for coffee and eggs, I find myself marvelling at the many different faces of our beach.
The phrase “shifting sands” may be a cliche, but it is also true. Although our leisurely route takes us past familiar markers — concrete boat ramp… rocky outcrop and around the point… storm water drain by the camping ground… rickety timber boat ramp — each takes on a new and fascinating personality with every encounter.
Some days, the storm water drain has carved out a creek, requiring us to clamber up the grassy hill above where the pipes come out to avoid getting our feet wet.
The rocks on the point may be mostly covered, or standing proud in jagged relief. Sometimes, the timber boat ramp stands a metre above the sand, requiring a big step up and a heady jump down… or else the sand might have built right up to the platform so that we barely notice it’s there.
Yet some facets of the beach are constant too. The seagulls usually flock around the water’s edges, while the endangered plovers patrol the beach in pairs to protect their nesting ground. The wild beach grasses thrust up through the sand in clumps. And always the waves roll in, incessant and irregular, relentless and timeless.
There is nothing quite like the continuously shifting beach landscape to remind us of the shear everyday beauty and power of nature. The winds and ocean tides swirl and pound and shape endessly — stamping their authority on the world irrespective of whether we witness it or not.
I love the beach for all these reasons, but often feel humbled by it too. What emotions does the beach inspire in you? Does the wild beauty of a remote beach appeal — or are you more likely to be found on a beach towel soaking up rays?