Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dancing With Mother Nature

On one of our long outback journeys we listened to Breath by Australian novelist Tim Winton. As we drove across the barren countryside with oases shimmering in the distance the  story transported us to a coastline thousands of kilometers away. The words made me hear the roar of the sea and feel the spray of the ocean water on my face. However, I was unable to visualize what Winton described as a ballet  featuring man and water. It wasn't graceful and eloquent movements that came to mind as I tried to picture the surfers in the story. Instead, my thoughts turned to Bondi Beach and its hoards of men and their boards. I reflected on an afternoon I spent watching the surfers and a choreographed dance is not how I would chose to describe the interaction between the agile athletes and mother nature. Instead, I would have to say it was an activity driven by testosterone. Each wave provided the surfers an opportunity to dominate the water. It was as though they wanted to conquer the the free flowing liquid in the same way that civilization has conquered the surrounding landscape by filling the horizon with concrete.
This past weekend I was able to walk the coast where Winton's story took place. Unlike Bondi, the land here remains in its natural state. The coast and the waters are wild, and there is no one attempting to conquer either. As we walked along the coastal trail, I was mesmerized by the crystal clear blue water. Each movement--up, down, forward and backward--blend into the contours of the earth, crashing then receding in a free flowing dance. Suddenly, as though a curtain, has been drawn open, a second element joins the scene. No, it is not humans, but several dolphins riding the surf. As I watch them swimming, jumping and riding the waves I reflect back to Tim Wilton's words. I am now able to visualize the surf's ballet where dolphins are the performers, water is the dance scape,  and the pounding surf is the orchestra.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the pictures. I've read several of Winton's novels and I love how he depicts Western Australia. I read Dirt Music while we visited the Geraldton and Kalbarri area. Breath was harder to picture although I thought it would be a lot more like Northern California. I visualized the area around Half Moon Bay but this is much less craggy.

    If you haven' read - I also recommend The Turning. Several of the stories are quite good and very WA.