Exploring the beach


An extract from my journal 17 December 2010

The sandbags make a good resting place. Firm, rounded, but more giving than a rock. They’re here, not for my comfort, but to keep the sea at bay (or the sea in the bay, if you will).

9.10 am on a Friday. A slightly overcast, but nevertheless fine day, with a deliciously cool breeze blowing—a breeze with a gentle-plus rating.

Not much activity here. Nary a soul on the beach as far as the eye can see—it’s easy to be alone on the beach here.

I’ll have to walk back along the road, just to get some real exercise. I’m a beachcomber at heart, you see, and when I walk on the beach I stop every few paces to pick up a treasure. No, let’s rephrase that—I used to look for treasures, but they are few and far between, and I would then feel dissatisfied when I didn’t find anything that qualified. Now (and I just realised this today) I’m searching for ‘pieces with potential’.

Good title for a book, that. Or an art exhibition. Or a song. My mind played with that for a bit and then suggested a better title: ‘pieces of potential’. 

Before I came to the Redcliffe Peninsula I had an idea for a series of small art pieces (I like small things) using arrangements of stones. But like so many good ideas, it slipped from my mind—that is, until I’d finished making my Christmas cards … cards which were a touch too complicated and busy. “Why didn’t you use that idea about simple arrangements of stones?” my inner self wanted to know (I had a great urge to slap her). 

I didn’t have time to start afresh, and besides, it wouldn’t have worked because my collection of beach ephemera included very few small stones. 

So on my walk this morning I was on the lookout for small stones. I began by collecting the red ones, for which Redcliffe it noted. It wasn’t easy at first because there were other small pieces—of wood and plant matter—masquerading as stones. 

But after a while my eyes became attuned to identifying the stones. After another while I tired of the red stones and began a search for the less bountiful glue-grey ones. And after yet another while my inner self got into the act again and suggested that amber would make a nice contrast for the deeper red and blue-grey. 

Being the complicated person that I am, however, I was not quite satisfied with a collection of similar-sized and shaped stones in three colours (it seemed too easy). I began noticing other pieces, those afore-mentioned ‘pieces of potential’—pieces with holes, interestingly textured surfaces, or surprising shapes. Not ‘treasures’ but definitely not bit-players.

The whole lot, I became intensely aware, was packed with potential.

I felt smugly satisfied, collecting the ordinary stuff of everyday life on the shoreline, the stuff that wouldn’t rate a second glance from most people. 

Life’s like that, isn’t it … we mostly overlook the precious ordinary stuff, distracted by the bright shiny objects


One thought on “Exploring the beach

  1. Another wonderful story. This is the talent that captivated me when I ordered your little eBook years ago. You are an amazing writer. Your stories bring me right along with you, experiencing all the things you are writing about. I enjoyed our little stone collecting beach walk. I am looking forward to your next post!

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