The beach is a great place. Most people say they love the beach. Lovers walk hand in hand along the sand and gaze at the sunset. There is no denying there is something wonderful about the beach. For 18 years I lived a fifteen minute drive from the beach and enjoyed many a long walk at the beach, sometimes alone and sometimes with my loyal dog and a friend and her little dog. I wrote poems about the beach and called it ,‘My place of peace’.
I moved a year ago and took up residence in a house a few minutes walk from a small river. Can you imagine my surprise when I suddenly realised my place of peace is not the beach but the river? The beach is wonderful but I am more at home by the river. I don’t know why it took me so long to work this out. How can one not know oneself?
Perhaps it is because the beach is so popular and I just adopted the common view that the beach is the place to be. I may have got caught up in the romanticism of the beach from watching too many click flicks. Maybe I hadn’t thought deeply enough about where I truly feel relaxed and what is important to me. Perhaps I sometimes accept the views of others without asking myself if it is my view.
As a child I spent many a happy hour near the river that ran along the back of Grandma’s property. Sometimes I would go with my cousin to get the two cows that spent the day grazing on the banks of the river. Occasionally I would watch her brother catch yabbies. The small brown frogs that swam in the river fascinated me. I recall sailing paper boats that my uncle made from newspaper.
My own home was about a mile from the same river but a bit further downstream. My childhood friends and I enjoyed roaming by the river. We explored and built cubby houses out of fallen branches. Occasionally we took sandwiches with us and had a picnic lunch on the banks of the river.
Sometimes I wandered along the banks of the river alone. As a teenager it was where I went to sort out my problems and reflect on the meaning of life. I recall heading for the river when I came home for holidays after starting studies at university. It was a time of change in my life and I needed some 'me time', to sit by the river and sort myself out. I still have poems I wrote at this time about the beauty and peace of the river.
When my first son was young our house was again not far from a river. He loved walking by the river and catching tadpoles. Normally a very active child, he was calmer when he was at the river. I have fond memories of times we spent together at the river.
Looking back I see my connection to the river goes back a long way. It is probably why I feel such a close tie to the river now. When I need some ‘me time’ I head for the river. I feel at peace as I ramble along the path listening to the frogs croaking.