Broadwater. Sunday, 11.10am
I’m so lucky that a long time ago – before terrorist attacks, siege catapults or even cooking fire accidents – an asteroid smashed into Earth and knocked the planet off-centre.
I’m lucky, firstly, because I wasn’t there. Well, no-one was there four and a half billion years ago, but it would have been pretty scary.
I’m especially lucky though, because, after that big hit, the earth now spins on an axis that’s tilted to the plane of its orbit around the sun – so we have autumn. Hooray! Sure, that tilt creates the other seasons as well, but it’s autumn that really shakes my world.
The water at my feet is cold. Not winter freezing, not spring tepid, just refreshingly, autumnally cold. My feet, freed from their Cuban heels, skinnydip happily in the waves. If they had arms they’d be splashing water at each other and shrieking.
Autumn means the days are cooler but the ocean still retains some of summer’s heat.
I can feel the sun on my shoulders and it feels good. I do that arm-swinging thing and roll my neck. Luckily there’s no-one else on the beach to see me.
The autumn sun is not the melanomic monster that stalks summer’s crowded beaches, hunting for exposed skin, burning carcinomas into dolphin tattoos and turning singletted English blokes into beer-drinking beetroots. Autumn is cool.
I walk deeper into the ocean, jumping as each wave comes at me, weirdly avoiding getting wet. I hoot and holler as a wave scores a direct hit on my swimmers.
Sometimes though, I get depressed about things. But who wouldn’t? Have a look around; if you’re not depressed, you’re insane. Happiness can be tricky in a warming world with CSG mining, dying oceans and The Voice. Constant cyber distraction or a bottle of organic red wine can help, but the awfulness keeps breaking through.
Like, behind me on this national park beach, tyre tread is etched deeply into the sand, squashing any life beneath. Pity any pipis that may have survived the pollution that floods out from the Richmond River or the large-scale harvesting by profit-savvy vandals with trucks and shovels.
And then there’s the coffee rock. The soft coffee rock along this beach was formed a long time ago – about the time Dirawong the Dreamtime goanna laid his tired head in the water just south of here at Evans Head; a long time after Theia the rogue asteroid smacked a seasonless Earth.
Today, the coffee rock lies crushed and gouged by those frustrated 4WDs on their Sunday search for meaning. That’s wrong.
But with the sun massaging my neck, a cool breeze tickling my armpits, and a wave forming a perfect barrel as it breaks right in front of me, who am I to judge anything? What do I know?
If I had been on Earth way back, I would have looked up to the heavens and seen an asteroid – a big one, about the size of Mars – filling the sky and heading straight for my planet.
‘Oh dear, that’s wrong,’ I would have said to myself (having no-one else to talk to).
Depressed, I would’ve looked for a suitable place to sit out the catastrophe and to bemoan the terrible state of the world. (But there were no pubs back then.)
How could I have known that this collision would not only create autumn (which would make a depressed man happy in the far future) but also form a moon to shed some light on our darkest times?
I dive into the cold of a wave. It sucks me up into the moment.
I can hardly taste its rising acidity.