Iím back down Shellharbour Village, sitting on the rocks watching the waves rolling in.
Ianís at the fish & chip shop ordering our dinner; my treat after a day at work, the fish is delicious with its crispy crumb coating.
I love the beach Ė the sharp smell of the salty air, sounds of seagulls, waves crashing and children laughing.
Iím instantly transported back in time to childhood.
I grew up in the coastal, ship building town of Whyalla in South Australia. Some people say the best part of Whyalla is the road out. But as a child I wasnít aware of this.
I had a happy child hood and teenage years there. I arrived with my parents, brother and sister in the late 60ís. We were part of the Ďten pound Pomí scheme. My poor father never recovered from the shock of the semi desert landscape after the green hills of bonnie Scotland.
Whyalla has a great beach. Itís known for itís abundant Snapper and Whiting.
Mind you, you could get swallowed by the gigantic mounds of seaweed that used to gather on the foreshore. When I got my first car I would get trailer loads of the stuff as bedding for my horse. She loved the salty weed to sleep on but one night she ate most of it in one sitting and nearly gave herself colic, so I didnít bother after that.
Anyway, getting back to the beach and the subject of memories.
Isnít it amazing how a sound or a smell can transport us back in time? As I sit on the Shellharbour beach thatís exactly what happens.
Iím again, a child of ten. Iím down the Whyalla beach with my parents and kid brother. Itís about 4pm, the tideís out and weíre going crabbing!
I have a home made spear in my hot little hand and thongs (or flip flops) on my feet to protect them from the Razor Fish hiding on the sea floor. Razor fish are large shell fish that can cut your feet to shreds if you donít wear shoes of some sort.
Itís quite a long walk to the Ďblue lineí as we used to call it. Through the shallows, across the sandbar and into the sea weed gardens, that from a distance, look like a blue line.
Thatís where the Blue Swimmer Crabs live, hiding in the swirling seaweed.
We would be there for hours, wading around, catching the crabs and loading up the buckets. We would never take the brown females but return them to breed further.
Dad would keep his eye on the tide to make sure we didnít get marooned and cut off because of the sand bar.
It was still quite warm at that time of the evening, the sun getting low, casting its amazing red, orange and gold shafts across the fading blue, cloudless sky. Just the warm, sea breeze blowing across our wet legs. They felt itchy because of the salt.
Come 8pm itís time to head home.
Us kids would get showered and into our PJs ready for bed Ďcause there was Ďschool in the morningí.
Meanwhile, Dadís in the kitchen cooking up the crabs. Mumís making a pineapple pie and cream.
We would all collect trays and sit in the lounge room to eat our crabs, pie and watch Walt Disney on the TV.
Through the years many memories are gathered.
Not all of them are happy, some I wish I could erase.
But, thatís life, right?
What I have learned to do, though, is build as many happy ones as I can. This, Iíve found, is the best way to out weigh the unpleasant ones!
When I eat spaghetti, Iím transported to Venice where I ate the best pasta ever.
When I put on my leather jacket Iím instantly back in the leather shop near the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence.
The smell of lemons takes me to Sorrento where we saw the largest lemons on earth!
Gather as many happy memories as you can - stop to smell the roses, make mental notes.
Create happy memories for your children.
My kids still remember the weekend excursions to local picnic spots, eating hot chips on bread in the rain. We didnít have much money, $5 was all we had for a day out but they have happy memories and so do we.
Life goes so fast. I want to put as much of it as I can onto canvas and paper.
My painting Ė Kite Flying" Ė is from a childhood memory.
What memories do you have? Share them with others and build new ones for yourself.
Ciao for now,
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