A few weeks ago I decided that the confusion and weirdness in my head brought about by the changed circumstances of my and everyone else’s lives, had to be worked with and not worried over. So I decided to walk for two hours each morning to freshen myself, get the blood pumping, and encourage the endorphins to start me off for the day with pleasure. Next morning I was up early and walked towards Bellerive Village then onwards to Howrah Beach.
Passing the Bellerive Marina on the way, I looked up to see delicate wispy clouds pouring over the top of Mount Wellington.
On the high water mark at the beach, torn fragments of bright green and brown seaweeds were stranded. Glowing and almost transparent with the strong light of the autumn sun.
At that time of the day shadows were long.
I loved seeing the passage of dogs.
I loved seeing the pathways of the Silver Gulls.
Through the trees edging the dunes, I heard the magic of parrots parroting and the occasional musical magpie singing.
It is a while since I walked that beach early in the morning. I was reminded of years of pleasure I have experienced on that sand with the lapping waves of the Derwent River edging my walks; and some readers will recall ‘following’ me as I walked from the mouth to the source of the Derwent a few years ago (www.walkingthederwent.com). Mostly it was the same fresh air, crisp clean outlines of mountains in the distance and hill and watery horizons. Dogs were taking their owners for a walk and revelling in their own ball catching games as well as enjoying sniffing meetings with other canines that regularly visit the beach each morning.
But there was a difference. A major difference. I was comfortably familiar with the sing-songy G’mornins that were de rigeur from informal habits as I was passing people. However, on that morning my automatic greetings were not answered, people moved up and down the beach even further away from me than the metres of distance that already existed, and dropped their eyes to the ground. I blamed concerns about the spread of the virus, of course. Physical distancing we must undertake but social distancing is a great error in these times of limited contacts.
During my walk I was pleasantly surprised to run into a couple of friends and, at a physical distance, we compared notes. That morning they had noticed the same reaction as I, yet a week before it had been business as normal with friendly greetings across the sand. So I was much saddened by this change of behaviour.
But then perhaps people who wear their pyjamas to the beach are not used to the ‘formalities’.
I am pleased to say that since then, people have greeted each other warmly, albeit at a distance and briefly. It must have been a glitch in everyone’s personal head computer on that one day; that first day of my new walking regime.
Another thought intruded during my beach stroll. Typically I am sensitive to perfumes and other synthetic smells. So, when a gaggle of women passed me at some distance, I was almost bowled over with nausea from the intensive wafts of strong perfume. And the wind was pushing it my way as I headed further along the beach hurrying in an attempt to escape its poison.
What possesses people to come to a beach armoured with smells that will stop them appreciating the environment’s natural odours? Grrrr.
For a long time now I have been aware that an atom of air breathed out, in for example Moscow, will eventually travel around the world and arrive in Hobart and elsewhere over time where it will link with other atoms, molecules, and organisms which will be breathed in by someone. So, hoping not to be drawing too long a bow, for me to smell that perfume for a few minutes tells me I would be breathing in the airy excretions of all bodies but generally not smell them as they pass me. Current science suggests the COVID virus is transmitted via droplets but droplets can be small enough to seem invisible to the naked eye. Therefore this experience with the perfumed woman has put me on a different level of alert. The four square practice around each of us that is currently required may not be enough. So I will become even more careful or know the risk I am taking if I must be closer to the occasional person.
But let’s forget the threats and go back to the pleasures of Howrah Beach.
I loved watching the ebb and flow at the shady end of the beach where the waves curved in around and over the rocky platform. You can see some of what I saw in this video.
Most of all, I choose to value the relentless beauty of the lacy waves as they flounced up and down the beach.
A wonderful reminder of the powerful continuity and beauty of nature.