We looked at each other and cracked up laughing.
"Well who the hell else would be picking up big huge rocks and walking 'round with them?" Teddy Rux demanded in mock consternation, slapping the top of the undulating, salty water to emphasise her point.
The Sydney twang had reached us at the same moment as we saw them, two young Adonises waist deep in the water, passing a very large rock back and forth for no discernible reason.
The rock-bearers drifted closer, unaware that I was fluent in their particular dialect.
"You know this is why people think us Australians are crazy?" I lobbed at them.
It took a moment for my accent to register, for the g'day mate grin to break onto their faces. We got chatting. It turned out that they were using the rock to weigh themselves down and run along the sea-floor as far as possible, like some kind of slow-motioned rugby players, hair streaming behind them as they gouged their feet into the rocky floor. Their ease in the water, as well as the pleasure this strange game obviously gave them, made me smile.
It's a strange thing, to be living in one country and writing about another.
Wondering how best to describe the sound of a child digging in the sand a few meters from your head. Remembering the exact colour of a rainy autumn sky. How fast frangipani flowers fall when they drop. The smell of an overheated V6 engine. Cricket on an AM radio.
And while frangipani's and wickets are nowhere to be found in my part of the world, some things do prevail, like the violent communion between the soul and the mind that for me, can only begin in salt water.
Oh the sea, the sea, the sea!
I've missed its cleansing tidal forces, the shock of the beating sun. Smarting salt and tangled hair. Heat that forces you to surrender and just lie down. Unseen dumpers that wring you out and deposit you, gasping in foamy whitewash.
I've been aching for this for a whole year, and now I'm here on the coast again, its all rushing back.
Today's lunch, fresh mozzarella and salami on baguette made sitting on our towels, transported me to the Albany beaches of my childhood, Mum making salad rolls, skillfully shielding them from the wind with the lid of a big blue esky. Huge chapters of my life have been written in wet sand: as a tiny child, hoisted up, then flung gleefully into the fray. A young Scout, learning how to sail a catamaran in the gin-clear Vasse water. A skinny high-schooler catching the bus down the hill to spend endless hours ignoring boys.
Cold beer, hot sand, fire-twirling friends. Fishing misadventures and illegal campfires. Dancing on the beach at night and writing messages on low-shutter-speed film with sparklers. Licking rivulets of dried salt off my forearm and regretfully washing sand off my tanned feet.
And now, new sensations, like the crackle of stones racing along the sea floor (again! its always stones and water). Beaching seems more active here, the density of the tourists and their bright chatter keeping me alert. I haven't yet sunk into my normal meditative beach state, where I drift in that half-world between sleep and wakefulness. Even so, I notice that the the smooth, grey rock I turn over in my fingers seems to spin slower and slower in time with my own gradually slowing pace.
Sea, salt, sun. Sea, salt, sun. I can feel my skin and cells and spirit recharge like a battery as the sun lingers in the sky for hours into the late evening, regretfully sliding behind the hillside for another night.
I lace up, and spin lazy circles at the lookout under the stars. Young couples kiss and whisper to each other as my skates trace invisible loops and arcs, the hushed sea breaking over and over on the rocks below me.
Wave crash, stars slowly turn, I glide.
Yep. I'm moving slower here, grooving in time with my old friend, the big strong beautiful blue sea.