Tuesday 26 July 2011

Growing Up

The Uncertainty of Life

When i was a child, my grand parents owned a farm in Motueka, a small town, just across the bay from Nelson in New Zealand, where i grew up.  My visits there usually lasted a few days and i always looked forward to them with much excitement. On this farm, i experienced great freedom. Hugal, their boxer dog and i would spend hours scouring the pastures and playing among the walnut trees.   We spent tireless days searching for berries and disturbing rabbits in their burrows. There were so many things to do on the farm, so many nooks and crannies to explore and this, peppered with the imagination of a child, led to many little adventures.

When i was about 7 or 8 years of age, my grand parents sold the old farm and bought a lovely, bright, new house overlooking one of the inlets near the beach of Kaiteriteri.  This area is not too far from Motueka and forms a series of ocean inlets and beaches that are gilded with strings of golden sand. In those days there were lots of pine trees and forests and the air  hummed with the sound of cicadas.

Not  many people lived there, but the few who did built small, wooden cottages between the pine trees and would visit on weekends or holidays.  If i came to stay during the week, i could take Hugal and go down and ramble on the beaches for hours without seeing more than a mere handful of people.

I was devastated when the farm was sold. Nothing could ever take its place an so many happy memories  abounded for me there.   Holidays at Kaiteriteri, were a very different matter. These bought new and some times very challenging events into my life.  I enjoyed the same freedoms in this new place as i had always enjoyed on the farm.

Being free to roam as i pleased was one of the highlights of my childhood years, but this was a freedom that i could really only enjoy during the visits to my grandparents.  I took this freedom which they gave me, as a sign of their trust and was prepared to do whatever it would take to retain it.

One incident that stands out in my memory very vividly during this time, took place at the beach not too far from my grandparents new home.
It was late afternoon and the tide was going out.  In this place the tides came in a very long way.  So high, in fact, that only a tiny strip of golden sand would be showing when it was full.  But when it went out again, it would leave the beach naked and wet with little ribbons of seawater ferrying out the last dregs of water. The whole area, that was in one minute blue, would then be drained and become a shining stream of river-lets that diminished rapidly as the water was sucked out into the bay. All this would happen within the space of just a few hours, so there were tidal forces and rips at work in these inlets that were  very powerful.  During these hours the beach inlets would be like giant bath tubs when the plug is taken out and i was warned on many occasions to be very careful.

This particular afternoon, i was playing alone on the side of one of these tidal streams when the small bank of sand that i was sitting on caved in.  Suddenly i was thrown into the stream which was very cold and very swift.  So swift in fact, that i was sucked under by the currents and tossed about like a leaf in a white muddle of water and sand that was being dragged out to the open sea.

From a moment of blissful play and unawareness, i was thrown into a turbid cauldron of icy foaming water.  The current was so strong and the surge so powerful, that no matter how much i struggled and flailed around i could not find  which way was up or down until i was knocked and scraped along the bottom.

In the midst of this crisis i had the very lucid awareness that my short life might well be about to end.
However by this time, the powerful current had  surged out into the open bay and i found myself tossed up and then pushed out of a whirling mass of seawater.

After the initial sobs and gasps for air, i noticed that the shore line was a long way off.  In those few minutes the tidal surge had dragged me about 200 meters out into the bay.  It was utterly terrifying to see this and also that there was no one on the beach to call for help. The entire length of the beach, in both directions, was totally deserted...

Read more in Awareness Comes Knocking
Books by the Writer

1 comment:

  1. Even within this 'single' lifetime.. we are given back life many times - some time...But like with this one, i feel, there inevitably comes a message, something like a "proof" maybe, as same strucking perhaps, as the incident itself (?)...


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