Beach Baby

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Daily I walk the port. It remains cold, despite the onset of spring. A biting wind. The dog has been let off his leash more lately, but, having found the odd chicken bone or two he has taken to wandering away and searching for himself. After all what is more fun than scrounging. Innate dog. His recall is dwindling and it will need some reinforcing with roast chicken of my own.

Still. Nose to the ground he is searching the grassed areas where people tend to eat and leave their scraps. I see him, triumphant, munching, rudely open-mouthed, on something. Ignoring me. Lead back on. We walk the boardwalk by the beach.

 

I see a couple – the man has a baby held to his chest. It looks just born – its hair still plastered down like it has freshly emerged from an egg sack. Even from a distance there’s a newly hatched wetness to its slick of black hair. His large hand cups its skull and presses it into that dip between his neck and shoulder.

I think of the wind assaulting it, pushing at its eyelids. On the beach a woman (the mother, I guess) is in all black – leotards and top – and has her legs wide apart and is stretching to her side, this way, then that. He moves around her with the baby jiggling and thrusting its hungry head into his udderless shoulder. Skin-warmth the vaguest of similarities. Leotard is intent on her exercise – staring straight out into the ocean, her hair an angry blonde storm.

The man has baggy brown pants on – probably cheesecloth – and they bristle in the wind. He has long white arms. I wonder how much fun they are having. He looks cold, but ever so patient. I wonder if they have argued about her time, his time. I wonder if this is her saying I need this space. His way of making it up to her after a suburban meltdown.

Take the baby home, I think. Wrap it in warmth. Soothe it with mohair and mother, real milk. It makes me recall my own mother – shocked at the fact that new mothers no longer have a lying in period – where they stay home, after the birth, and simply look after the newborn, propped up in bed with a mountain of pillows, feed sleep feed. I am turning into my mother. Enough exercise already.

I think of Alain de Botton’s new novel The Course of Love and his writing, “love is a skill and not an enthusiasm.” This father has skill, standing back in the dunes watching the mother bend and twist. He hunkers down so the baby is protected and waits. He waits while she struts the sand. Punching it with the soles of her perfect feet. Asking the world why? More bending.

Still. I think do your yoga, eat your chia, somewhere else, somewhere warm. Leave the seaweed-strewn beach that is cold and bitter to walkers of dogs with thick coats. Dogs made for wind and rain.

About Nicole Lobry de Bruyn

Born in the psychedelic sixties to hard working and conservative parents my sister and I grew up in sleepy suburban Perth, Western Australia. We played by the river, the beach and in the bushland of the cementary. I loved a chocolate Dachshund enough to make me want to become a veterinarian. I did. I became paralysed from the waist down when car hit tree. But not running, walking, standing or kneeling didn't prevent me being a vet. I am still a vet but would prefer to write and read and read and write about walking and not walking, feeling and not feeling, knowing and not knowing. So this is what happens when you enter thechookhouse.
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6 Responses to Beach Baby

  1. Joelle says:

    Great photo Nicole !
    I agree that Alaiin de Botton has great one liners but his latest “novel” is more of an essay trying to be a novel, not convincing of his staged characters ….I guess I am a bit wary of modern day philosophers !
    Enjoyed your piece and agreed , get that baby home !! Xx

  2. damon says:

    always love your writing Nicole. I can see that scene so clearly – at different times in my life in each of the positions you describe – the protector, craving exercise and the seasoned observer.
    I guess that comes with age; being reflective, having a considered opinion – as I can also imagine being in my 20’s looking at them and thinking “old people go home”.

  3. Thanks Nicole…I can feel the woman’s adamance [is that a word?…’tis now] and the perhaos incomprehension but willingness of the man to do things RIGHT. But I wonder at the ‘need’ for mothers to punish their bodies back into shape without the ‘lying low’ of past times. Good imagery.

  4. Kirsty says:

    I’ve missed your stories. I could smell the delicious scent of the newborn while reading….

  5. Charlotte says:

    love this! hate public displays of yoga – peacockesque. Heard podcast you’d enjoy on ‘sniffing’ – father and son try to live like badgers .. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/596/becoming-a-badger

  6. Janet Ingham says:

    Beautiful, evocative writing Nicole – all I could think was “why isn’t that baby wearing a hat”!

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