on the front porch
It’s my favourite spot – Mum’s front porch. Just a narrow strip, wide enough for a pair of Adirondacks at one end, the old miner’s couch in the middle, two rows of vibrant red geraniums and a couple of potted herbs under the kitchen window. All carefully positioned to soak up the sun. Within moments of arriving, moments of waking up, moments of coming home from the beach, we head to the front porch. Almost always with stitching in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. And I have to confess, I can become lost on the front porch. Perfectly happy to sit there for hours on end.
The mighty Pacific, in uncountable shades of turquoise, sapphire, aquamarine and sun-kissed silver, rolls gently in and out of the bay. Framed at one end by the glowing red rocks of Long Point, and the tumble-down cliff of Haycocks Point at the other. In between, the little village of Pambula nestles into the heavily forested hill to my right. Behind it, Mt Imlay rises ever so slightly, like a sponge cake whose top has just broken, reminding me of the white pioneers who arrived just 150 years ago with their pigs, seeds and saws, and what isolation and ruggedness they battled. Mitch’s Jetty, painted in a selection of ice cream blues and pinks and yellows and greens, sits quaintly in the middle. Hundreds of mostly little boats bob about in Fishpen – which is also home to many carefully tended oyster farms.
Just before we move along to Long Point on the left, the sandy tip of the main beach a-l-m-o-s-t reaches our favourite Bar Beach, stopped only by a very narrow stretch of water that is carefully navigated by the fishing boats as they come in and out of Fishpen. When the tide is in, Fishpen and the Bar are smooth and deep with those magnificent shades of blue (they don’t call it the Sapphire Coast for nothing). When the tide is out, huge sandbars appear everywhere, reminding us that this perfect little harbour has been slowly filling up with sand over the last several thousand years. One day …
From the porch we can hear the bellbirds in the forests that surround Mum. Flocks of sulphur crested cockatoos scream overhead. Pairs of beautiful rosellas and lorikeets come to visit. The shy rosellas, in their vibrant plumes of red and blue, sit atop the weeping silver birch. The jaunty lorikeets fly right in and strut up and down the railing, winking and talking to us as they jig and bob. On most afternoons, huge grey kangaroos hop lazily out of the forest and down the grassy footpaths, stopping on the front lawns to have their afternoon tea. In the morning, the same footpaths are covered with piles of their pebbly round droppings. Sometimes, a timid and solitary wallaby will sit at the top of the street, staring out to sea as if she too is captivated by its beauty.
It truly is my favourite spot, especially with Mum or Julian or Abby at my side – or all three! As for the doggles – Lucy gives it a cursory glance, “yeah, yeah, see that every day” and then sprawls out in sun to sleep and when that becomes too hot, she slides under one of the chairs. Fu – well she’s her mother’s daughter! The second she realises we are heading out to the porch, she throws herself out the door. She bounces up and down the length of it once or twice, checks out what we are doing, whether we have anything nice to eat, then sits Sphinx-like in the far right corner, her head up and alert, eyes narrowed, turning this way and that, her ears and nose twitching as they catch all of the wonderful sounds and scents. She misses nothing. Every now and then she turns back to me, a big laugh on her face, as if to say “did you see that! did you hear that! isn’t it awesome!”
We humans chatter and laugh and read and stitch and draw. We sip our early morning tea, eat our breakfast, often our lunch too, enjoy an afternoon coffee, take out late afternoon nibbles and cocktails. I sit, sunglasses and hat on at 6am – the early morning sun is blinding – and quietly breathe it all in, trying to tuck all of that beauty and magic inside, so that I may take it back to Melbourne with me, holding it close as a reminder of where we want to be in a few more years.
Then, just as happens on the beach, the wind can come up, fierce and cold, whipping pages of out of books, throwing scissors and threads off the table and scuttling off the edge of the porch and down to the garden below. Hair blows into my eyes and mouth, my eyes squint up tight.
It’s time to quickly gather our things and seek refuge inside, knowing this is what life by the sea is like, waiting for it to pass, before eventually popping our heads out the front door to see if it’s nice outside for another wee sit on the front porch.