Like most Aussies I’m a fringe dweller. I live an hour from the coast. On a clear day from the top of my paddock I can see Western Port. But I’m no salty. My surfer mates, station-wagon dudes with skunking wetsuits in the backseat, possess an acute relationship with the sea compared to my inlandness. As if, linked to the watery cells of their bodies, they feel the tides in their bones. By tasting the air they know if it’s an onshore or offshore day. I get it, but have to think a little harder. I’ve had to learn the right tools, practice, and take notes. And I sometimes forget. It’s generally a case of heading out (or in) for a week or two before I get in sync. This last week, I’ve epitomised the inlander. My local patch of coast might be producing mermaids right now, washing them up on shore by the dozen. I wouldn’t know, I’m in the hills.
Kilometre bagging in my new ride has ground to a halt. Parking the ute, unloading the ute, locking the ute and heading out for 1-5 hours on some mind-numbing loop has gotten the better of me. Training, in general, is fine, but who wants fine? I don’t sea kayak to be fine- I want to go somewhere. Logging time in the seat (still a bum-numbing, leg deadening issue) to bludgeon the mussels and brain into readiness has been spent elsewhere. Instead, I’m fixing my arsehole shed that has leaked since the 70’s. As far as I can gather, other than Bill Murray and the colour brown, nothing good came out of the 70’s. An era of stupid architecture replacing beautiful old buildings, stupid hair, and the rise of stupid looking Volvo’s that introduced the world to stupid sounds when you open its doors (or beeps when your featherweight passenger beside you, that is actually a toolbox, doesn’t put its seat belt on).
For the record my first car was mission brown. Best I’ll ever own. “It’ll see me out”, I said as a 19 year old. Side tracked…
My shed is being converted from a boxy, dysfunctional piece of crap into a classy New England style marvel. Pitched roof, large timbers and high walls. It smells like a sauna when it rains from the east, wetting the cedar (I tell people it’s my cologne). This project- my leaky shed, has diverted my attention. Yet the sea calls, half through a small slice of guilt, and the other through RSI. My left elbow is giving me buggery. As much as a long paddling day, bloody land life is doing me in. Us dominant-handers rely on strong sides to perform the trickeries of fine motor skill and leave it to our opposite sides to hold the box of nails, push, pull, hold and strain. The idiot and the smart one working in unison. My dad can hammer away with both hands. I can’t and know it at the end of each day.
Naturally, with less than four weeks until departure, sweaty inland barn building and box’s of nails has me thinking of a sea breeze and a zinc-smeared face. Dammed in both the terrestrial and the fluid- both have me zooming towards the March 19th departure, and both- as I say, give me RSI. And bugger me if beneath the soft-tissue-issue of either setting, I’m genuinely enjoying the final few weeks of lead-up. I have finally the shed roof and departure points in my imaginary vision. Having hassled me for a year or two, looming in their incomplete, unseeable and leaky states, this intense lead-in (even with buggered arm and numb arse) is a great part of the journey. The anticipation of feeling land slip away beneath me, knowing that my take-out point is weeks over the horizon, is almost upon us. (‘Us’, has usually meant me and my boat, or me and my pair of runners. To quote Mum, ‘us’ now means four, instead of one, ‘dumbass’ (I suppose literally in my case).