~ home

My eyes transfix on the pristine blue waves that plunge down on the unseen sandbar. I wish that I could be out there; feeling the tingle of freshness and being alive as my body surfs down the face of the waves. The reality is that my body won’t function because of the lack of sleep and the fact it is only 6am on a fine summer’s day.

My eyes slowly move across the beach gazing in amazement at its virgin beauty. They once again halt at the dark gloomy rocky outcrop that is creeping seaward like dismembered fingers. The rugged and angular rocks contrast against the unharmed and flowing blue body of water that seems so content, yet has so much vibrancy behind each curling surge of the ocean.

I look down at the grey rickety stairway that has been sand blasted over many years whilst exposed to the howling onshore winds that the windy winter days bring. The stairs snake down the steep bank meeting the sparkling white sand track which finally brings you to your taonga; the 800 metre stretch of clean, fresh and unblemished sand, except for the few faded footprints that didn’t get destroyed by the grasping tides. The beach itself arcs in a casual crescent; at each end there are intimidating sand dunes that climb into the cloudless sky.

The air is soundless; you don’t even want to take a breath in case you disturb the serenity. All you can hear is the noise the waves make as they reach the end of their journey and converge on the sand with force. A gust of wind can be heard while there’s a lull in the surf. Cicadas drum their natural rhythm as seagulls fly over head squawking out their demanding cry. I am enveloped by a sense of tranquility that is only ruffled by the sounds of nature.

My memories come flooding back as I stare at the southern rocks; for my lifeguarding friends and I these have been an adventure playground. The rocks have acquired names such as the “Blowhole” and the “Horseshoe”. The Blowhole memories sweep into my mind, the waves surge into the formation in the rocks and clash with such power it causes a fireworks display of water. We are usually swimming in the waves also clashing with the rocks and shooting into the sky like on a mini rocket ship. The adrenaline buzz kicks in as we swirl around in the ocean as if we are in a giant washing machine, having no control on what we bang into and often ending up with scrapes, gashes and bruises which we proudly show off when they’ve healed as these are our battle wounds.

As the crowds start accumulating on the beach the natural sounds get drowned out and I’m woken from my day dream. The loud laughter of children building castles in the sand and the other beach goers enjoying the sizzling sun remind that time is moving on. There is a sense of excitement and anticipation in the atmosphere. The beach that was calm and quiet earlier has now turned into a melee of brown and red bodies as they make the most of yet another glorious Northland summer’s day.

I have to leave my dream, my paradise to shoulder the burden of responsibility; I put on my red and yellow surf lifeguard uniform. I now return to the real world, a world in wish I now have to participate in instead of just sitting back and appreciating. Ocean Beach was my escape from reality, my safe haven from the turbulent trials of everyday life, it holds my favourite memories.

Niccy Howes