Fear in the storm

So, I planned our day yesterday around the low tide and the cool change.

You see, things around here need more planning in January. You can’t turn R out of our street around midday. The IGA is to be avoided at all meal and snack times. Get your stuff done in Grove before 10:00 in the morning.

Unless you want to crawl back home at 20km per hr along the bends.

It’s a tricksy time of year for us who share such a spectacular part of the world as our home. But despite all this, I love the buzz of the summer season. So I simply try to plan accordingly – to minimise public meltdowns of my smalls. As well as lengthen the fuse of myself.

Yesterday – at 42* – our unconditioned brick veneer got the better of us at 3:00. Scooby-do’ed out, we were about to eat each other if we didn’t get some salt on our skin and some relief from the heat.

My lover’s 14 hour cover shift in dark air conditioned rooms was beginning to sound like heaven…

So my smalls and I zinced up and braved the wind to catch the turning of the tide. On our bikes, we hit 13th.

And the low tide rock pools.

Our hidden treasure all year round. A rock pool deep enough to bomb. Clear enough to snorkel. Safe enough for me to doze with Yoga Journal over my nose while my 4:3 covered smalls play.

Happy little folk always equals happy mummy.

Planning for low tide 4:45pm.
Cool change 7:00pm.

Plenty of time for frolicking.

But as 3:00 turned into 4:00. And 4:00 turned towards 5:00, the sky kept getting blacker and blacker. And crawling closer and closer.

As I kept saying to myself – just a little rain. We’ll be right. We’re not made of sugar…

Then my eldest wise one said, “The wind smells different mum.”

Sensing the earlier than planned south-westerly, we collected our things and turned for home. The clouds had changed to red. Maybe smoke from the fires?

And then the beach turned.

First, I noticed the water lifting up to the sky.

And with that, we were knocked to the ground.

It felt like I had been punched in the stomach by someone wearing a knuckle duster made with broken shells. My 2 girls screaming, my youngest lad crying – I yelled for them to close their eyes and get low. Their bodies wrapped in neoprene would be sheltered from the sandy bullets. The real reason behind the red clouds. My string Roxy 2 piece offered me nothing. The wind whipped sand seared into my skin like razor blades. I draped my body over my youngest to soften his blows, which intensified mine. “Just keep your heads down!” I screamed.

I was truly petrified.

Then I heard a man’s voice -“Run!”

I looked up through squinted eyes and my girls were gone. So too was the surfboard the kid next to us had been holding. I grabbed my youngest lad’s hand and dragged him to the steps.

We climbed and when we got to the top, my girls were cuddling, huddling and wide eyed under a bench.

Adrenaline is a funny thing. The sciatica that had numbed my heel for 3 weeks was gone. The 14 year old said something to me but I didn’t hear the words. The guy who told us to run offered to put our bikes in his ute. I couldn’t register why.

I gathered my smalls and we half ran half fell to our bikes. Blown away helmuts found, wetsuits and roxy string still on, we got on our pedals and headed hard for home. Under apocalyptic coloured skies and through slow moving head-lit cars, we mechanically moved. Detouring where the trees had come down, slowing where the desperate traffic stopped – never looking behind us.

So frightened. By whatever it was that shocked us. Whatever it was that hurt us. Whatever it was that made us come home.

Think heart openers, seated twists and brahmari breath.

The instinctive response when you are deeply shocked or truly frightened is automatic. It’s a basic drive that over-rides all social niceties. All compassion. All curiousity. All heart human-ness that I’ve work so hard to hold and worked so hard to share.

I was so frightened for my children, I was so frightened for myself – I helped no-one. I shared nothing. I just ran.

I just ran away.

And when I got home and realised I didn’t help a lone kid whose board was blown away. I didn’t acknowledge a man who tried so hard to help my family. I pedalled so fast and so furious around people who I could have slowed for. For people who could have explained to me what had happened. For people who may have encouraged me not to run.

But to stay.

To stay present. To stay connected. To stay open.

When the adrenaline died off and the pain in my heel came back – I listened. I listened for the wind. For the rain. For the memory.

And as I reflected as to how even the most well laid plans can go wrong, and how sometimes I might be ashamed at my behaviour, I am safe. My smalls are safe. And I am home.
And ready to practice heart human-ness again.

Ready for the next random tornado I find myself in.


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