island providing life
The wet sand snuck in between my toes, the cold salty water of Adventure Bay lapped against my naked ankles, I was back on the island, my internal smile grinning from ear to ear, my external face all serious and in full tilt 'adventure mode'. It was a good feeling to be back. It's not a feeling of home, of comfort, of reliability, it's a feeling of adventure. It's still wild here, anywhere where the ocean rules supreme is wild, but here, it's also wild on land. The people are free (some slightly wild) and life is slow. Maybe thats just my vision, through visitors eyes. But I see what I see, I am after all just a sponge. Aren't we all?
We'd come back to the island to visit Kate's father, a resident now of a handful of years but not quite a local. Being back on the island has me going wild again. Before we'd driven onto the ferry, I'd walked the beach, cracked open an oyster and devoured it raw off the rock, where the pacific oyster grows freely, escapees from the many oyster leases in the bay. My mouth fills with the taste of ocean. It transports me back to my childhood beach holidays, not that I ate oysters then, but the taste of fresh oyster peeled and shucked from off the rocks, has a surreal way of bringing flashbacks of mouthfuls of salt water being dumped whilst boogie boarding the surf at Anglesea as a prepubescent ratbag.
The fish fed us well. Simply cooked, mostly eaten with fingers. The taste of each species different from the previous, and giving us plenty to bullshit about. Sometimes we'd add some coriander, some chilli, garlic or ginger. Sometimes just grilled with a dash of olive oil and a flash of salt. Either way, this was fish we'd caught, hours earlier, off the little boat, with our two hands. This is the only time we really eat fish, other than the trout and eel I catch in fresh water. The difference is the range of flavour and texture. It's just magic. A total experience, just like the brochure of life said.
There was one day remaining, my last chance to be out amongst it all. I was determined to make the most of the day fishing for tucker. An early hour had me up and ready, down where I'd left the boat on the beach a few days earlier. I packed everything needed, and took another look at the swell, it was big. Maybe I should have stayed on land, maybe a few hours more and the wind might calm. But the fish. The pan, empty. Dinner.
I made the call and packed the small tinny, waded out into the cold mornings water and started the motor. I got past the break no problems, it was the big swell behind it that was the challenge. The boat rode high then dropped hard often with the loud slap of aluminium haul hitting cold salt water. I passed a few boats with four or five blokes in them, all looking at me with a mixture of concern or bewilderment, but nonetheless we waved as we passed. I figured just getting on the other side of the bay would see the conditions much calmer, so preservere I did. Low and behold the waves subsided the further I got from Quiet Corner (how ironic). I dropped the lure and trawled as I went, a strike here and there garnished a few more Australian Salmon and a nice Barracuda. Enough for a feed so I pulled up to a rocky bay where the water looked calmer.
I sat alone, eating my lunch looking out at the rough water and dark clouds above. So menacing was the view, I shuddered with the thought of being caught out there. A human is nothing but fish food as soon as they step foot in the sea, and this day was a clear reminder of that, hence my life jacket tightly secured over my chest. The waves lapped the rocky bay as I munched on my tucker. I couldn't wait to be back out there, I was drawn to the water, to the chance of catching some fine specimen. But I sat alone for a while longer, pondering. I wondered what other blokes my age were doing at that moment. Probably in an office, building a house, fixing a car, or watching the football. I was pretty happy to be doing none of those things. I was sitting next to a dead albatross, eating a salad roll in a place called Adventure Bay. It was a good day.
I fished a few more runs with the lure and finally talked myself into chugging the coastline of the bay and heading back to return the boat to its beach home, and me to the kitchen to cook the fish and enjoy it with fine company of the Berry family. I didn't catch the big one, I didn't fill the esky with fish nor did I fish for glory, but I filled the pan with fish and fed us some fine fresh seafood. We eat mostly seafood when we visit the beach, and we eat mostly vegetables back home. We eat what's around us. Not dissimilar to a life lead for thousands of years. Kinda makes sense don't you think? To eat whats around you. Not whats packed, processed and shipped from thousands of miles away. Food for thought. Fish for thought.