I like having a winter birthday. I like it because Canberra does winter well. We have clear blue skies, bright light, chilly air and in July, the daffodils are starting to open their yellow heads.
But this year I headed to the beach for my birthday, specifically the beach where my parents live on the coast of New South Wales. I love a bleak wintry beach, partly because I love the grey skies over foamy waves but mostly because there are almost no people on the beach in winter.
We took Alice and her mum with us. Originally the plan had been to go fishing on my dad’s boat on my birthday. I wanted to catch a snapper. I don’t ask for much. I just wanted to catch my own dinner. Two weeks before my birthday my dad selfishly sold his boat. Alice bugged him all weekend about it. ‘Grandad why did you sell your boat?’ I think he regretted that decision. Four year olds are brutal. Don’t let those cherubic faces fool you. They know how to dig the knife in!
Nonetheless, it was awfully nice to be out of town, to feel the salty wind on our faces and to share my birthday cake with a four year old who was determined not to miss out on the candles, the cake and the after dinner sparklers.
I loved knitting on Mollymook Beach while Sean and Alice admired the waves. That was a definite high point. A belly full of fish and chips, a bit of sunshine, someone else doing the active stuff. It was nice. That’s Alice and Sean you can see there in the distance.
After much begging on Saturday, when we saw two little girls swimming with their mother like it was the height of summer, we made a deal with Alice. On Sunday we could swim. By ‘swim’ we meant ‘roll up our jeans and paddle’. She was over the moon.
One day when she’s older I’ll tell her that her ploy to get us to paddle turned out to be the greatest moment of the weekend. The three of us held hands on Hyam’s Beach, where the rip was strong. We held hands and got way more than our ankles wet. We watched a pod of dolphins pass by and laughed and cheered as the waves licked our jeans.
I consider this the happiest of birthdays. It pays to get out of town some times and do something different.