Memories - A Day at the Sea

by Angelo Mifsud
(Canberra, ACT Australia)

It’s a balmy spring afternoon and I have just finished working in the garden. I’m sitting here in the shade enjoying a cool drink watching my grandchildren playing in the yard.

Feeling the cool breeze on my face reminds me when I was an eight year old during the school holidays.

It was a time of great family outings by the sea, I remember, on those warm summer days. We went to Botany Bay, a wide stretch of sheltered water surrounded by mangroves, little coves and sandy beaches. The rocks were naturally placed in a way that created barriers protecting the beach from erosion by the buffeting waves.

I remember one day, calm and bright not a cloud in the sky, we went to the beach for the day. The sun’s rays were beating down on the sand, reflecting the heat to where I stood, and the sand was getting hot. I looked out over the bay on that particular day and remembered the first tangs of the sea and sand penetrating my senses. I could taste the salt, strong and bitter, and the tingling sensation it left in the roof of my mouth.

The car unpacked, the picnic rugs and umbrellas set up. We ran into the waves, my Brother and cousins, laughing and pushing each other into the water.

After lunch, low tide began and we started our search amongst the rocks looking for Mussels. Our Fathers, their fishing gear in tow, went out to catch a fish or two for dinner. The air was full of the vibrant smells of the sea affecting your eyes, palate and nostrils. The salt, helped by the breeze found its way into your hair, and the gritty sand leapt at your face and legs. The constant smell of the dead, rotting fish and vegetation was intense, I remember, further adding to the occasion.

The scent of flounder and Mussels cooking on the campfire added to the multitude aromas. The salad made up with lettuce, cucumber, radishes, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. It was drenched in lashings of oil and vinegar that added to the waft of smells that assault my senses even more. That freshness and taste of the food I still remember today. Everything ready, we sat and ate, and exhausted we watch the glowing sunset. The eating of food accelerated our tiredness and at the end of the day, in the dimming light, we listen, relaxed, and laughed with our grandparents as they told the stories of our parents when they were growing up.

At day end, everyone headed home, happy and smelling of the sea. I remember those days, especially those smells of sea life. I look at my grandchildren playing in front of me now, and wonder, if I can take them to the beach and give them a memory of the smell of the sea.

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