The Constant.

The Constant.

By Dan Dobbin.

(Written two weeks previous, with the threat of beach lockdowns for the Easter weekend heavy in the air)

Well, fuck me if the world hasn’t gone to hell in a hand basket.

The possibility of a ban on surfing hangs heavy in the air, poised to be enacted with every passing day. Bondi, Bronte, Tamarama, Maroubra, Coogee and Clovelly beaches already closed in Sydney.

The Gold Coast joining the list, the Mid North Coast too.

Overseas, police arrests and military forces patrolling the coastline.

The biggest concerted effort to keep surfers from the ocean since, when?

The coastal lockdowns of World War II?

Missionaries trying to dissuade Indigenous Hawaiians form undertaking their sexually charged heathen practice of “he’e nalu” in the late 19th century?

Whatever the answer, the feeling of living on borrowed time is difficult to shake, every go out now a treasured event.

With two kids kept home from school for the last week, cabin fever was beginning to build by Thursday.

I’m fortunate to live near a stretch of coastline that still affords the possibility of a solo session more often than not.

Mid-week and late afternoon, no other souls at the beach where I fell in love with the ocean.

It’s 2ft, little lowtide runners along the sand bank. Looks fun.

Waters warm, with a light offshore puff, a grommets delight. Kids having a blast.

Every Christmas the majority of the residents in my community still migrate 10 kilometres east to this small coastal hamlet, a hangover tradition from when life was hardscrabble and enjoying holidays locally was your only option.

From where I sit out the back, I can see the spot my family used to camp over the summer break, my father transporting half a house full of belongings for a month long stint, the only break he took from laboring all year.

Absolute beach front, you could piss onto the sand in the middle of the night if your bladder was full enough. Set up was a full family affair with Uncle’s pitching in a half a day’s effort to get the job done.

They experience the same a generation before, my grandparents taking them to the same spot since the mid 1950’s.

Family lore says that I was scared shitless of the ocean for the first decade or so of my life, infatuated with it since the day my Uncle dragged me kicking and screaming out past the breakers on a small day, breaking the fear bubble and introducing me to a wonderous new world.

This beach was the scene of the wonderous experiences of being a teenage frother, surfing four or five times a day with lifelong friends.

The crew of mates that, even with the coming of adulthood and distance, still remain your crew, even if you only speak a few times a year.

Dalliances on the land with my future wife. The strip of sand shaping so much of my life.

All this flashes through my mind as I watch my son, roughly the age I was when the tentacles of surf stoke first dug into my brain, catch a little bowly right. Off the bottom, little flop over at the top, slide back down to the bottom.

First roll he’s made.

Face like a split watermelon, smiling with stoke.

Outside the water the world turns and writhes and takes on shapes and dimensions we could never have imaged possible.

But in the water, the ocean, the beach, is constant. The waves come in, my kids ride them, where I rode them, where my father and uncles rode them, where my grandfather swam every morning on his one hard earned holiday of the year.

Things will change, but things will also continue.

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