Can you say Blueberry Blondie? I can’t.
An Open Letter To The Fathers of Daughters Around The World:
Starting at a young age, at a very young age, make father/daughter time a priority. Make it a such a regular, natural occurrence that by the time she is a teenager, she expects you to take her out for sushi or ice cream.
When she's six, laugh at her knock-knock jokes, teach her to fish.
Here’s a slightly more photogenic view of Australian Crunch:
What is it with the sea?
We sat watching the sea-green waves roll in, continuously never-ending, entranced. The waves were high but not fierce, despite the windy day; perhaps the curve of the bay broke some of their force because it was likely choppy further out. The waves at our local beaches behave very differently, the coast is more exposed and the shingle and stone beaches are long, almost continuous mile after mile, so they are not moulded by high-rising rocky cliffs and slopes; however there is a mighty shelf not too far out which seems to temper their height and which makes swimmers and other water babies cautious.
Occasionally as we sat there watching, mesmerised, our eyes were drawn to the rocky side of the bay closest to us and of which we had the best view. Towers of surf and spray crashed onto the rocks but it wasn’t the fear-inspiring crash of a storm. This evening the sea was playful and sunbeams danced on the water.
And they weren’t the only ones enjoying the water; there were other water babies too, human ones. We sat and watched those too. I confess that I was rather bemused by their antics, for as much as I loved to swim, I cannot see the attraction of becoming a human seal in rubber armoury on what was a pretty cold day for the time of year. Heads and feet were left painfully exposed and they seemed to be spending most of their time plunging head-first under the waves as each one rolled in, which to my mind wasn’t quite the point of surfing. I understood surfing to involve surfing, riding each incoming wave triumphantly. There is a kind of attractive glory to that but watching them plunge under to lessen the break upon them made me uncomfortable, reminding me of all the vulnerability and risk that water poses to us.
A little later, we moved on to a sheltered harbour. Relatively sheltered, that is, because the waves, although tempered by the harbour wall and the natural shape of the opposite cliffs, were causing the small boats anchored there to rock, not bob, with each roll. A rock that at times was more of a lurch and once again, I was reminded of man’s vulnerability and found myself, yet again, wondering at those for whom the sea has always bewitchingly called.
Water is the story of human civilisation, great cities and cultures have risen and fallen with the availability of water. Or, perhaps ironically, the over-inundation of water. Humans depend on water for everything: to drink, to give them food to eat, to water the animals they tame and use, to give them building materials, to give them opportunities to trade.
As I watched the small dinghies rock in that sheltered harbour, I thought of how peoples, not so long ago really, went to sea in vessels not much bigger or much more secure. Great trading networks were founded by the determination of people in small, vulnerable vessels; great discoveries and voyages of exploration were undertaken by the determination of people in small, vulnerable vessels. And I wonder why. Being in a boat, even on a proverbial millpond, holds little attraction to me. I see the vulnerability and the risk. I fear water.
But so many don’t. I have great respect for those who chose to go to sea even as I baffle at their choice. We still depend on those who go to sea; those who transport the goods that feed our insatiable hunger for material things; those who transport the actual food for our actual hunger; those who catch the food. Presumably the sea calls to them, it sings a song of enchantment in their genes, it lures them. And lures never end well. The sea is to be respected.
But feared? Perhaps. Because as I watched those gentle harbour waves, I realised too how unstoppable, how uncontrollable those waves were. And that is what I fear; to me water is a powerful force, one that can never be dominated or mastered by mere humans, however experienced or knowledgeable. We are nothing against its strength, we can be swept along by it just like the tumbling weed or the churning sand. And however mighty or impressive the civilisations that we keep on building, it can all be swept away by one wave, like a sandcastle built too far down the shore.
I am not a water baby; I keep my distance, admiring the beauty and charm of a simple, single wave but still deeply conscious of who is more powerful.
It turns out that runcible spoons (AKA cake forks) are also perfect for fish’n'chips; fork prongs to stab the chips with, sharper edge to cut into the batter. Who said that they were just for posh people?!
I gasped, trying to clutch reality, trying to stop the world from completely slipping from my fingers. I can do this, I tell myself. I cannot believe otherwise. If I do then where will it end? The world, my world, my life, everything will fall away, it will be the crash of a tower of bricks, a slight wobble here and there, the slow bend of the tower but then the inevitable crash. It will fall. And all will be lost.
I tell myself to hold tight, I grip my hands tightly, cramped-ridden knuckles that rarely seem able to straighten anymore, as if life, health, self, world could be something tangible, something that could be grasped, something that could be kept held of. I can’t keep hold of them; they’re more slippery than fine sand grains. And the tighter I grasp, the faster they are squeezed from my grip. I cannot win.
I gasp, every breath is a struggle. The physical world around me swims. The ridged concrete path swirls in a blur of motion. The metal fence posts alongside do tricks that no fence post should ever be able to master. The world will not stay put. It will not allow me to get a handle on it. I cannot keep it still. I grasp out at it but it moves, slippery and fast, and unreachable. Everything is beyond me.
You’re not meant to get motion sickness walking. But I do. It’s not like I have mastered some locomotive state. Or maybe I did once. Once upon a time, I was able to keep up. Keep up with what? Life, self, health, world. No more. I am slower than the World’s Slowest Walkers. I know. They keep overtaking me.
I struggle to breathe, like an asthmatic at the end of a sprint. But I have gone nowhere fast.
My body ridicules me. Me, that self I dream of being. I cannot be. I am crippled and handicapped and fighting a body whose war I barely even understand. I am conspired against daily. I lose daily.
I no longer feel safe walking by myself. I don’t have the breath to think let alone scream in defence. I feel shaky, vulnerable, weak, frail. I am not myself anymore. I can’t walk out into the world with the bravado that I used to. I can’t take the time to enjoy a moment of solitude or the world around me. I am too busy fighting. There are days when I walk so slowly past front gardens that I get to know each and every blade of grass by name. I don’t admire flowers, they get boring when you’ve spent five minutes walking passed the same one. They taunt me, moving free in a breeze. They have more speed than me. They move whilst I am motionless. One day snails will overtake me.
I muddle words and can’t remember whether I had conversations out loud, in my head or in my sleep. I can’t remember what needs doing or even what I have done. I forget where I am halfway through a recipe. I forget ideas halfway through sentences. I forget. I forget. Me, who has always been a memory keeper. Me, this is my role, this my usefulness in the world, because I can remember. And I can’t. What have I left? I console myself with sarcastic humour, reminding myself that at least at some point I will forget that I ever even had a memory. But at the moment? Oh no, I remember. I remember the glory days.
The glory days that never were.
A golden age only exists in nostalgia, a better time compared to current woes.
And I do remember that there have never been glory days for me, I have never succeeded, not even at being myself. And now I feel perhaps I would have a chance but it is all being dashed away from, like that tower of bricks. I cannot stop them falling, I cannot stop the present and I dread the future.
My hand shakes. I am weak and vulnerable and pathetic.
This is not me.
This is not who I want to be.
This is not who I should be.
I forget names, faces become foggy.
I mix up all my nouns. If I can even remember any.
I get my sentences backwards.
More vicar, tea?
I don’t know if the world notices but I do. I notice. I see every single mistake, every single failure. I, who have tried so hard my entire life to hide my weaknesses, my problems, now have them writ embarrassingly large across each and every conversation and each and every day.
This is not me.
The slow, painful steps that I am taking through life and the world.
This is not me.
I sit motionless, lost, unable to find the strength to do anything.
This is not me.
I cannot form sentences.
This not me.
I cannot remember.
This is not me.
But it is.
It is who I have become.
I didn’t get a choice.
I would have liked a choice.
Because I would really like to have life back.
I want another chance.
But something tells me it’s too late.
The sand has tumbled from my hands, I never had much anyway, and it cannot be found again.
I have lost.
I have lost me.