Alicia and I arrived at Lennox Head around 2PM… hungry. What can I say; packing the one suite case Noah’s Arc of my life days after just arriving in Sydney was strenuous. We dropped off our bags in what Alicia calls the beach “shack.” That is a misleading name. It’s only sort of small with a whimsical faded red and blue exterior. You enter from the street into a wicker furniture living room backed by a large sliding glass door. Just through the door milkweed topped sand dunes mark the ocean. We climbed over the dunes to take a quick peek at 7 miles of beach before walking into town to get lunch. We wanted something “fresh and delicious.” This quickly revealed itself as code for “fried.” Fishie fish called to us with its blue wooden bubbly sign and the promise of a special daily fish basket for two. Really, we didn’t even stray far from the original intent of “fresh and delicious,” the fish was fresh and the salty batter was delicious! It was a perfect beach lunch, except for the mischievous ocean breeze that kept trying to blow away our ketchup containers and then, as it got stronger, even our battered prawns. We engineered a system of pinning down napkins and plastic forks with French fries that worked well until we felt the need to eat our technology. Alicia and I finished the feast slowly, deliberately scraping streaks of ketchup off the sides of the paper fish basket while holding it down from the wind. Then, possibly because of the sudden pressure we could feel building up in our arteries, we left the restaurant for a little stroll along the beach. We set our toes on the (even windier!) beach and then, literally as we reached the water to test its temperature, the sky flipped to grey, the clouds opened, and cold rain began falling in sharp diagonals. “What is this about?” I yelled to Alicia, sort of kidding and sort of pouting at our bad luck. She grinned and shrugged. She’s always good for setting an even keel before my potentially more passionate responses to events can take hold.
The “shack” was still warm from the now absentee sun when we got back through the rain speckled sliding doors. We started water for tea and began wringing out the left sides of our sundresses that had been the special victims to the wind-slanted rainstorm. We left the windows open to listen to the beach storm and watched little dark puddles form on the slants in the wooden porch and in the soles of the sandals we’d left outdoors. I’ve always loved storms near the water. The ocean makes you feel small and lonely and quiet because it just won’t shut up with its raucous waves or quit stretching off further than you can imagine. Rain has a different noisy blending, dulling effect; every other sound ebbs under the drumming and even the highest most important heads bend their necks, protect their eyes, and shrink as they watch out for puddles. Rain at the ocean reminds you to just sit still, be glad of cover, be glad of company. Lennox beach, usually impossibly quiet and ruled by the noise of the waves was now vibrating with the noise of a lot of water falling in different clashing rhythms. It rang through our ears for hours and we had tea enjoying sudden empathy with sea-echoing conch shells and digesting our fresh and delicious beginning to the gold coast.