Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Once a Year snorkeler

Am trying to upgrade my journalism skills and have submitted the following piece to the Australian for their this life section. Am not hopeful perhaps you will find it ok

With the advent of holidays the basics of snorkelling are brought out, a mask with the tube attached, and packed. These basics are the cheapest available from a well known department store yet they allow for the most exquisite pleasure. The once-a-year snorkeler is ready. The delight in this activity has only been with me for a short time as I only discovered it 2 years ago and I am in my sixties.

Each year we go down to the South Coast of NSW where rock pools abound for our summer holidays. As soon as possible I slowly lower myself into the water and glide over the rock pools and enter the most fabulous place even though I am just an observer from above while this wonderful world spreads itself out below my slowly moving form.

The rock pools stretch over vastly different terrain unlike any seen on shore yet vaguely familiar. There are valleys and deserts with heavily forested sides that sway with a rhythm of the water washing around rocks and the tides.

The rocks form huge sink holes that are fathoms deep and while inviting look dangerous and mysterious, I glide over those and wonder what is down there but I haven’t the skill or courage to go into those holes. The rocks themselves are attacked by red algae that make them all shades of pink and reds and give the extra touch to a totally different world.

The vegetation that goes by the common name of seaweed comes in many shapes, sizes and colour. There are the succulents types with small baubles of liquid while the leaves of other plants vary from thin wavy to sharply angled edged appearances not unlike holly. The colour of plants are mostly a yellowy brown but there are variations here as well with strong greens and occasionally other colours.

The cares of the world fall away as this world opens up and a silence descends that is new and a fascinating array of creatures glide past and the sun sends dappled patterns to illuminate the rock pools.

With tender city feet my body searches out for the sandy bits where it is easy to put your feet and stand up for a breather yet these areas viewed from goggles are the deserts of the rock pool. Nothing is growing there and creatures that cross those areas do so in a hurry in case they become prey to whatever is around.

The creatures of the pool make the experience highly memorable as they show off their iridescent colours and patterns but being a nursery for their bigger siblings probably way out in the ocean these infant or adolescent fish show off their amazing prowess from languidly wrapping themselves in seaweed so they are perfectly camouflaged or darting from rock shelves to another hideout over exposed sand. They can be in small schools of the same size or singly inspecting the inspector now and then a large fish darts by or even a huge Groper will inspect the interloper.

This tired and care worn city worker just appreciates the opportunity to enter this world and wile away the hours to recharge for a year of hard work by viewing this world of wonders.

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