One of the pleasures of blogging for someone who loves English is that, since you play largely by your own rules (and those of one’s WordPress overlords, of course), you can take certain liberties with the language.
I’m pretty old-school about vocabulary and the Immutable Laws of Grammar & Punctuation, but it’s a blog, not The Times. So when I employ a sweet new adjective (seemingly) of my own design, and use it not once but seven times (counting this post) — I just checked — I feel that in my own modest way I have enriched both the language and the culture, hopefully till the end of time.
Mangrovey was my gift to the world. Or so I thought, till out of curiosity, after coming up with this post heading, I did a quick Google.
What a come-down. My own use of the word did not turn up till the fourth page of the search results! People have been having mangrovey experiences all over the globe (or at least those parts of it that support mangrovian* life) for years! Guess I’ll cancel that trademark application…
So we drove north again, my old friend Alex and I, right after I’d slapped Kate’s birthday post together and hit the Schedule button. I wanted it to publish on her birthday and there’s a 14-hour time difference — I knew there’d be no internet in the mangrovey desolation we were heading to, which was in fact one of its attractions.
Where we were going was the same spot I wrote about here — a quiet Bayside community where his parents and sister’s family are building a couple of houses on the one waterfront block. Since that last quick getaway, the first house had been just about completed…
..its occupants had moved in, and the caravan (trailer to you Americans) his parents had been sleeping in was now available to Alex and any friends keen to share the magic of the world’s most unglamorous beachside holiday.
We did the usual errands for dinner ingredients at the small-town supermarket, Alex had the usual discussion from the driver’s seat with the staff at the drive-through bottle shop (liquor store in American) and soon, well supplied, we pulled into his parents’ place.
Before long, greetings done and trailer digs scoped, with the sun about to bed down for the night and a brilliantly timed high tide creeping in, we were nursing pear ciders and strolling through the mangrove forests that shelter this tranquil stretch of beach:
Alex works in movies, lots of modest TV and film stuff but also sometimes in the costume department of obscenely large-budget productions filmed down here. If you want to know what it’s like to dress John Goodman, he’s the man to ask.
But if it’s glamour ye be seeking, look elsewhere. All-too-quickly draining our fruity beverages, we wandered around between sinewy trunks and over spiky pneumatophores…
..(well, Alex wandered, I sorta dashed and darted, a twilight dance I know all too well) while he filled me in on the stresses and strains of his latest project and I reflected that, money issues aside, the day-job of the middle-aged unemployed is a relatively mellow business.
Meanwhile the tide was encroaching, the light golden and glorious, and like a Z-grade director I quickly improvised a few cheesy tableaus with tripod, timer and long exposures:
Tide in, sun down, stars out, I took this charming self-portrait (which involved some serious running)..
..and then I realised with amazement that Scorpius, my second-favourite constellation after the Southern Cross (hey, at least I can find ’em) was spread in spectacular clarity across the eastern sky, above the sea and perched, like a flamboyant actor on a twilight stage, just above the scaffolds of the second soon-to-be house:
Here’s the whole constellation in black-and-white — we were using our headlamps as a bit of low-rent illumination on the scaffolding, and a certain participant found it difficult to stand still:
I recalled that trip to Alex’s brother’s bush container-home-in-progress, and the way we’d all stood around admiring Scorpius over several pleasant evenings…
We had dinner at the main house and then retired to the caravan and our respective devices.
Fuelled by pear cider (there may have been a vodka mule in there as well; if you’re going to mix your drinks, you must do so with alacrity) and the joy of freedom from my recent woes, which have been substantial, I pursued my passion for low-light shooting…
..and the exciting dramatic possibilities of the starlit trailer:
Alex PJ-ed up, I donned my smoking jacket and slippers, and we spent an excellent evening chatting and listening to a ton of new music I’d recently acquired:
We used to see the same bands 30 years ago as Brisbane uni students — the term and form grunge originated, as the scholars know, in Australia (long before Seattle), and Brisbane was a steaming, slimy hotbed of the stuff.
So we sat there listening to all these Nuggets 60s-punk numbers I’d downloaded, mixed at random with Sonic Youth, Aerosmith, Devo, Hank Williams and a 4-disc comp of Australian 60 stuff, and after a while and several ciders it all started to sound like the same band…
Somehow after a long evening I had the presence of mind to set my alarm, and more astonishingly, obey it when it dragged me awake before 5:00am. The morning tide lapping around the mangrove trunks was a powerful incentive (I don’t get out much).
I left Alex lying beneath a pile of bottles and chocolate wrappers, and struggled, coffee-less, to the water’s edge…
..and then out to the mangroves, which are at their most beautiful in twilight with a placid sea rising around their limbs:
Imagine my shock to see this apparition striding insouciantly into the sunrise. No wait, that was me:
And there were vast schools of these things floating in — as kids we used to call them sea pens or sea pencils:
Turns out (thanks, Jane!) they are the propagules (seedlings which germinate on the tree) of the red mangrove, a shrubbier and less common species in these parts than the big fellas you see in these shots, which are grey mangroves.
The next half-hour was spent in a happily aimless ramble…
..and when the sun and the rising tide finally got their way, I strolled back to the van in search of caffeine — just in time for the resident semi-tamed magpies to salute either my majesty, or the sun’s:
Another fun day, another photographically enriching sundown, lay in store — and another blog post for my lucky readers. See you soon.
* * * * *
By chance this 60s garage classic featured on Nuggets came up on iTunes as I was typing this post — seemed appropriate:
* Damn it, 3,010 results on Google…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote