Down to the Sea and other Delights
The Things that are Important in Life
Down to the Sea and other Delights
Holidays are important to most people and to every family I know. Also important is pride in one's country and in one's self. Of late these things have been attacked both in Australia and in the USA.
Should there be a problem in say Merry Christmas to someone in December? Some people are of the belief that since not everyone living in either America or Australia nowadays is Christian then Merry Christmas should be dropped.
My view? If the people of the Jewish faith can say Happy Hanukkah in December without any trouble then anyone who wants to say Merry Christmas should be free to do so. And if someone doesn't care to say it then that's fine too.
Santa Claus has also recently come under attack. Is he Christian enough for the Christian holiday of Christmas? Is he too Christian and should be replaced by an angel giving out presents?
Personally I love the tradition of Santa at Christmas and believe that these efforts to be rid of him are pure politically correct nonsense. Should Mrs Claus be more prominent in the story of Santa Claus? Well, I'll leave that one up to you.
Should there be a pledge of allegiance said by children at schools in the USA? This has come under question of late. Personally I see nothing wrong with Americans being patriotic or teaching their children to love the USA.
Should the Australian national anthem be removed from schools in Australia? My answer here is no. Should it be changed? I say no but I will listen to arguments for minor change. In any event Australian children should be encouraged to be proud of being Australians.
As for holidays, they are the glue that hold a lot of families together. My fondest family memories are holiday memories and many of them occurred up the north coast of NSW, Australia.
It should be noted that most Australians do live on the coastal fringes of Australia. The center of the country is very dry. In fact a great deal of the country is either arid or semi-arid. This is a fact many politicians seem to forget.
It is hard to beat the beach, the sea, pride in one's self and one's country and in spending quality time with family. Let's not let anyone take these things away.
Long before Cook discovered the East Coast of Australia the West coast was being used as a safe haven for English pirates.
It was through Captain Cook's discoveries, however, that the British came to colonize Australia. He was the great explorer. Today Australia remains part of the British Empire.
Maclean has the claim of being the most Scottish town in the whole of New South Wales. What's more the people are proud of their Scottish heritage.
It is a beautiful locale not far from the border between New South Wales and Queensland but still on the New South Wales side. The winters tend to be milder than those found further south.
As far as I know Captain Cook didn't come across Maclean in his travels. He did, however, come across the Great Barrier Reef. He actually ran aground on the reef.
Australia has a number of beauty spots and Maclean happens to still be one of them.
Down to the sea is a story set in one of the most picturesque places on earth. Here's the story:
I was fishing along the shore of the mighty Clarence when Tom went floating by. He was making a successful entry into the bay and that was fine with me.
It was his due and his eternity. I suppose I should have felt a lot sadder but I envied him too much. He was a man easily envied though I didn’t know him too well. In fact, apart from hearsay, I didn’t know him at all.
The name’s Sam Watts but just call me Sam. I’m in my late forties and I’ve been going up north to Iluka, a pretty little fishing village, ever since I could hold a line in my hand.
My parents fell in love with the place and so retired there. My youngest sister, Kim, lives at Maclean, a town also on the Clarence and not more than twenty miles away.
All my family is mad keen about fishing. We’re a diverse lot but the sport we collectively love brings us together. Dad once brought in a dewy bigger than himself. Mom has caught flathead off Iluka beach which made the local papers.
As for myself, I have hooked some nice bream but I have still to catch the big one that will enter me into the family hall of fame. But please don’t get me wrong. I have been at it long enough to have many buckets full of wonderfully fishing memories.
Late at night during a full moon, when I was fishing along the river, there was a rustling in a nearby tree. I turned toward the sound and found myself face to face with a young owl which had alighted on a branch not more than two feet away.
I slowly turned back and got on with my fishing and so did the owl. I glanced back expecting to see an empty branch but there he was looking out at the water. And so we fished together for hours, me and this bird who somehow knew I meant it no harm. For a few hours we were mates and I for one, despite the eeriness of it, appreciated the company.
Another time, which occurred about ten in the morning some Saturday, had me bringing in off Shark Bay beach the oddest looking fish I’d ever latched eyes on. Everything about it screamed primitive. Its head was a solid block of bone about the size of a brick and its fins were rather underdeveloped. There was muscle in its tail but not enough to make it anything but a bottom feeder and a slow one at that.
Its eyes were on top of its head rather than to the sides which was really weird. It weighed in at three and a half pounds. I looked it up in a book on fish species and found it to be a stargazer. I couldn’t help thinking at the time what an absurdly romantic name for such a basic, no frills sea dweller.
Then there was the time I was afternoon fishing off the rocks on a lovely sun-drenched Sunday with my girlfriend. We were bringing in Long Tom after Long Tom. They’d put up some fight even springing out of the water like demented flying sea dragons.
Time goes fast on such occasions and the setting sun was not a welcome sight. Naturally they weren’t there the next time I visited the spot. Where they went only time and tide would know.
This reference to time and tide neatly brings me back to Tom. It was late in the afternoon and I was baiting my hook along the bank of the Clarence when a woman in her 50s came up to me. She was dressed like she was off to church but it was the middle of the week. She looked sad and contemplative. She was cautious in approaching me as if she were under a spell she didn’t want broken.
“Have you seen some flowers drift by?” she asked me in a soft velvety voice.
“No,” I replied. “Why?”
“They’re my Tom, you see.”
“My husband. He died a week ago. I had him cremated. Up river I had his ashes scattered into the water. A friend of mine kindly threw in some flowers at the same time so that we could follow his progress down stream to the sea.”
“He was a fisherman. The river and the sea were his life. It was a wonderful life he shared with me. We were so happy. This was in his will. He wanted to make his final farewell to the places he loved and the people as well.”
“There are mourners all along the river hoping to catch sight of my Tom’s flowers and to wish him well on his journey.”
There was a lump in my throat and for a while neither of us spoke.
“Do you mind if I wait for him?” she finally said.
“No. Not at all,” I said. I think the sight of me casting out and reeling in gave her comfort in that the live style she’d enjoyed with her Tom was continuing. Before long we did sight the flowers. They weren’t much to see but her eyes lit up and a tear trailed down her cheek. Then she smiled a radiant smile. “Goodbye, love,” she said.
Just being there with her had me remembering a lot of my own good times with bait and hook. Tom had been luckier than I. For a start there was this woman who cared deeply for him. To this day I don’t know if what she and her friends had done with his ashes was legal or not and I don’t care. Its enough that it was done and a more beautiful send off I can’t imagine. Let the sea, always, take care of its own down to the sea, I say, down to the sea.
More by this Author
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The Great Gatsby, The Red Badge of Courage, A Stainless Steel Rat is Born, Brave New World, 1984, Story of O, Tender is the Night, Wasp, Dune, Twilight Healer, A Study in Scarlet, Dracula, Jazz.
The 20th Century, Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Cold War, H. G. Wells, A Woman of Mars, The Hulk, Ian Fleming, Tarzan, A Clockwork Orange, Agatha Christie, Biggles.