The morning arrives so softly that most people never see it coming. It steals in, low lighted, unsaturated tones of grey on grey. The heron flies low across the mudflats, taking his time, mapping his territory. I’m here on the seat by the estuary. Silently watching, a voyeur of the emerging day. She is so beautiful. I feel like an interloper on a secret thing. A privileged visitor. I wonder why all the human race seems unaware of this morning magic. Why they sleep until the later light bleeds through their eyelids, stumbling into a day already partly gone.
All of nature seems to join the morning chorus; I hear the buzz of bees and the low of the cattle up on the hills, cicadas, the pop and fizz of the mudflat creatures, mangrove dwellers and tiny sparrow calls. A fish flops across the mirrored surface of water, further out where tide has failed to drain the deep. And in the distance, the sleeping layers of greys, stretching out into the peninsula. The sky is bleached this morning; when I first came out here, the moon shone thinly through the misted clouds. We’ve had a full moon. It is imperceptible now, milk white in the white lit sky.
Last night, we came down here for a night swim, watching with the wonder of children as our hands passed through the phosphorescent water. Like tiny galaxies swirling under our fingertips, whirling away into universes too minute for our comprehension. Starbursts of white and blue glowing and fading in the black water. Millions of tiny microorganisms stirred into a momentary spiral bloom of aqua fire. It felt special, these bodies of ours, warm against each other in the glassy dark, stars above, stars below. Salty splashes across our contours of skin. I will remember it. Like the feeling of bare feet in the sand at night. The quiet wonder of raw freedom under the wide sky.
Recklessness and water.
Mary, my mother-in-law, passed away this week, and tomorrow we will have her funeral. I think about how she loved to walk down by this estuary, about how she and my girl would pick flowers along the walk to Lover’s Rock, nattering away about this and that. Eventually her husband and loved ones will find a new rhythm of days without her here. We will become accustomed to coming here and not seeing her. But we will always feel her presence. Down by this water, along the edge of Mangrove flats, out across Mercury Bay and in the wonder of all this beauty.
Once, many years ago, my younger self crept out the back window of the old house with my guy. We ran down to the water’s edge in our pyjamas and I jumped on the old rope swing in the Macaracapa Tree. It swung out over the early tide and we laughed when I got stuck out over the water. Mary watched us from her bedroom window, and laughed to me later that she’d seen us sneaking out, early in the morning. Into the new day.
I wonder if she sees me here, writing by the curve of water behind her house. I wonder if she feels the peace that I feel, the quiet beginning of something new.
Vale Mary. If heaven exists I am quite sure it contains all the beauty of this place you loved so much, and all the love of your family, especially those gone before, waiting there to hold you in their arms again.
And Mary, if you see my Mumma, tell her I miss her. I’m sure she’ll make you a cuppa. Look into her eyes and know that she’s been away from me all these years, and yet the love carries on. It will be like that for you and your boys. The love remains.
The melody from the song Nightswimming spirals through my thoughts. The lines startle me with how closely they echo my feelings. I smile to think that there are indeed now, two. My two mothers, side by side in orbit around the fairest sun.