December 20, 2008

I’m writing from my beach house. Its serene. The children are sleeping in. The only sounds are the hum of the fridge (dang that) and a distant wattle bird. I plan to go for a jog along the beach later. Right now I have a cup of rooibos tea to drink and a bowl of porridge to eat. I have such a habit of eating breakfast as soon as I wake that last year in summer, when we were invited to breakfast at a friends beach house, I ate my muesli absent mindedly while getting ready to go. 

I went to a local farm and bought a christmas tree yesterday. It is a cute little one that the farmer has been trimming along with the rest of his slowly dwindling crop since 1997. It’d bushed up nicely. Its the densest christmas tree I’ve ever seen actually. Sally thinks its too fat. “Christmas trees are supposed to be triangles and this is a circle”, she complained. But the kids decorated it anyway. They’re not bad at making do.

I’ve had a busy week. Only three days ago I was at a five star resort in Torquay presenting my work before an intimate crowd of thirty-five. It was a strange time of year to be running a work retreat. On 16th and 17th of December there are so many other things to be doing. I made the most of it though. Prior to the commencement of the symposium with two colleagues I went for a walk along the beach there. After venturing along a track through coastal vegetation and over sand dunes we found a huge expanse of beach stretching as far as you could see in both directions. We turned left and walked with the setting sun warming our backs even though the wind was cool and strong. I strode out, invigorated. My colleagues ambled along at half my pace and I periodically waited for them. Eventually I slowed to their pace and contented myself to participate in the conversation and watch the clouds moving in from the west in interesting patterns even though I longed to run.

After ten minutes of walking they wanted to turn back. Dinner was being served in less than half an hour but the beach beckoned me to run.  I took this opportunity to part with my colleagues.”I’m going to run for five minutes”, I said, “then I’ll turn around and try to catch you”. They laughed at this. “Okay”, they said. “It looks interesting up ahead. There seems to be another track. There are people in the distance”. This they pointed out for my benefit. It was obviously not interesting enough for them to find out for themselves. “Okay, I’ll check it out”, I replied and set off.

I set my watch to zero. I wanted to play the game I’d just set up. Five minutes out and then I’d try to catch them before they got back to our accommodation. I wondered if they’d speed up their pace. Running, I felt free. For that moment I was released and by myself. After three minutes I passed a sign on the beach. I jogged near it so that I could read it. “Nude Beach” it said. 

I jogged past it. I only had two more minutes to go. There was a person by the water’s edge playing in the waves with three dogs and it did occur to me that correct etiquette may have been to remove my clothes before passing the sign. But it was only two more minutes. I decided to jog further away from the waters edge and give the person, who as I approached realised was male and naked, some space. I averted my eyes and ran on past him.

As I completed my run I kept an eye on the time. Out of my peripheral vision, however, I could still see his dogs. They seemed to be just as close to me as the moment I ran by them. I watched the seconds hand on my clock and turned exactly after five minutes to find that the naked man and his three dogs had been running behind me, keeping pace with me and possibly even catching me up. 

I looked squarely at him momentarily whilst turning. In a split second I summed the situation up as completely non threatening. He seemed intent on jogging and continued in his direction even after I turned to retrace my tracks. It was the humour of the situation that struck me more than anything else.

Later at the conference when I shared the story of the incident with colleagues there was much spontaneous laughter, followed by discussions about nude beach etiquette and the sharing of similar experiences, i.e. with streakers in fun runs and such.


6 Responses to “Freedom”

  1. mennogirl said

    What a funny post, I have to say I envy you your beach house and beach walks right now as even more snow is falling. Also the incident with the nude man is rather amusing! So did you end up catching up with your colleagues?

  2. Kit said

    Have a lovely Christmas at your beach house. Our tree is tall and thin on one side and leaning out from itself to double width on the other, but it’s a tree and smells of pine, so it’s beautiful!

  3. trousers said

    Love that sense of freedom from running – it really is SO liberating. Perhaps for the man it was doubly so, liberated as he was from his clothes as well.

  4. ejenne said

    Hi Mennogirl. I didn’t catch them!! I think they must have picked up their pace!

  5. ejenne said

    Hi Kit. Thank you. Your tree sounds perfect!

  6. ejenne said

    Hi trousers. lol. Do you envy his liberation from his trousers?

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