The Epic Tale Of How I Got Sunburnt.

I really want to talk about how it feels when I press my Big Toe and the long skinny one next to it together. But I’ll spare you an intense pile of bullshit and make way to something a bit less dramatic (loving this predictive txt and autocorrect, it’s like the phone is reading my mind… Scary…).

Today’s subject is, ‘How fucking hot it is’, in my little part of, The South West, Western Australia. That big, floating, giant continent that’s ½ desert, and equal parts, bush, forest, mountains, humidity and aridity. You’re a fool to seek relief from this heat. To try and cool yourself is a direct challenge to the harsh Aussie summer, and it will not be tolerated. No sir.

It was hot. Piping hot. I think I started sweating as soon as I stepped outside, the three beautiful mastiffs that usually greet with slobbery kisses, were too hot and bothered to even acknowledge me when I stepped outside, and that made me reconsider going to the beach. But I went anyway. The walk would be enduring, and the promise of a swim was more than appealing, even more so considering its access was a pain in the ass and I would have it pretty much to myself.

It was remote from the main beach, and there was a bush track to the water through dry heat and sand and limestone scrub. Yes, it was a mission, a challenge. And I like a fool in return, accepted it.

I had a plan. I would take my time and proceed at a leisurely pace, thus enabling me to enjoy the walk while rubbing my resilience in the face of nature and twisting its nipples, “You like that, don’t you nature? You sick bastard”. There would be no time for pleasantries and, given the relationship between nature and myself, neither of us was backing down.

You see my friends, the first obstacles is really loose and unstable, crushed limestone rocks peppered with sand, going straight into the sky. It was something ‘Batman’ couldn’t do. Not in his gay rubber suit. Nor without his fancy gadgets. A smart man would have turned back when he decided to go to the beach in the first place. The circumstances and risks were clear. Get to the beach, or die trying.

I took a breath. Then, I took another. It’s called breathing, and I enjoy it. I put one foot in front of the other, and with the steady repetition of this process, I gradually made it up the summit of Mount Doom and to the clear view of my small corner of the town, with its many trees peppering the landscape with a sea of green, hiding tiny houses. It really is enjoyable, to sit there for a bit and enjoy the deafening sounds of countless and invisible insects. The sound of leaves and twigs, being disturbed and cracked, by unseen and hungry, potentially lethal, predators and prey alike. Here, anything will kill you.

The track isn’t too tough from there. It’s basically an incline and decline, half the size of the first one and a little more solid. The main danger was forgetting to enjoy the walk and take it all in. And take it all in is what I did. The thin vegetation, the dips to either side of the track leading into gullies and bowls, filled with Gum and peppermint trees and other ‘unknown’ (by me) flora. Every now and then the path gets a little shaky, a foot slides here or there and before you know it, you’re at the dune that leads down to the ocean, and the waves crashing on her shore.

Yesterday I made the mistake of wearing my thongs to the beach, today I wore my DC’s and kept the burning sand off my feet. It was the smart thing to do. Considering my excitement to get waist deep, I decided to do a front flip down the crest onto the sandy side below. I’m part ninja. I’ve seen some Jackie Chan shit. Ong Bak. I think I watched a bit of Kung Fu Panda too. I was pretty happy I landed my awesome flip, so I rolled down the rest of the way as a way of displaying my mad skills and prowess.

I rolled to my feet with dust spinning behind me, and then, it was the ocean that stood before me. The elemental forces thrown at me had little hindrance on my efforts and I cast forth a victorious cry into the wind, and once again, established my dominance of these harsh conditions. My sunglasses were clear, my heart was pounding, and the waves were crashing. The answer spread before me, called me. The wind caught from the east and pushed little specks and rolls of weed along, and begged I walk into it.

I obliged. I removed my shoes and made my way to the wet sand. Feeling the warmth of the water, it was no trouble getting up to my waste and bob around a little. Little jumps lead out deeper, tips of toes barely touching the bottom before bobbing off again. The occasional wave taking the floor away as it carried me in its embrace and back towards the shore with my head tearing across the top of the swell. After the Initial dip, I take off for my routine walk up a deserted beach.

As I walked along the shelled sand and lapping water, I heard a distant thundering, like a massive engine or rotors. At first I thought it was the huge transport freighters, in a lot closer than usual and being audible. But after a scan of the sky, I see the sun catch something. A distant yet glaring glint. Two of them. Two helicopters. Pretty low. One was red and yellow so I assume it was, Surf Life Saving, and its companion, one I couldn’t identify. They were flying over the scrub and not the water, momentarily breaking the softer sounds of the beach.

After the choppers had gone, I sat down for a few minutes and watched the light dance of the rolling sea, sparkling like gemstones and diamond. Realising I had sand casually make itself home up my shorts, I decide to take another dip and wash off before walking back down to my shoes and contemplating my next move. The walk back is uneventful, and the sun lights me up like a candle. A six foot candle that hasn’t properly seen the sun in years and is quite possibly, actually reflective.

After I make my way back to my shoes, I think it’s a good idea to dig a massive hole to sit in while it fills with water, but for now, I’m going to finish this on the morrow, its taken an you to get here, and I’m about halfway through…. Stay tuned.

Alrighty, I’m back yon people. I believe I
was at the stage where I had settled back near my incredibly wicked DC’s and their powers of feline nimbility. I thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll dig a huge ‘fuck off’ hole and let it fill with water”. So I did. I dropped to my knees and started carving a spa sized extravaganza into the sand. The sun was harsh, the breeze died off, and the little, tiny crawlies, were scuttling on the sand trying to find their holes and an escape from the summer sun. After a good 10 minutes and thinking I should bring a shovel next time, my masterpiece was almost complete. All I had to do was let a little water in.

The easiest way I found was to simply sit in the carved seat, lean back, and kick the shit out of the front to break the wall and let the water in. Kicking in a most serious fashion, as if the sand itself had caused me indignation and then spat on me, I once again showed nature “Man is the ultimate force”. Water rushed in with the first big wave to breach the break on the shore line and make its way to my oceanic spa, thus releasing my from the constant attack of the suns beams.

As the water came in, the spa smoothed out, shrunk and turned Into a bath, and that was ok with me. I leant back, closed my eyes, and listened intently to the sounds around me. I thought about dolphins, their aerodynamic and streamline bodies bursting forth from the surface, teaching their young and playing. I thought of a paddle boarder flat on their back beyond the formation of the waves, about how wonderfully refreshing and lazy that must be. Just floating.

Thoughts became nonsensical as my hearing dimmed and I drifted off to sleep in the baking sun, in what could quite possibly be, an inadvertently pre-dug grave in the sand. I might have dozed for about 20 minutes before I woke up to my legs covered by collapsed sand and a cold hit of salty refreshment, the little sand bugs crawling on my arms. I wonder if my snow white skin has been transformed into a magnificent and deep rouge. The first sign the process had begun, was the tightness on the front of my shoulders and chest. The second, the mild burning sensation.

After I have another swim to rinse off, I check for anyone else who might be around, just my luck I happen to be alone as I drop my shorts and flip them inside out and wash the sand out. I happen to check my belly for the sun damage and notice the most ridiculous tan line between my pubis and and stomach. Lobster red and moon white hahaha. The contrast was comical. Donning my shorts again I catch a wave to shore and contemplate how I’m going to put my socks on with getting sand on my feet.

This is an optional challenge, for bonus points The ol’ ‘Put your socks on while smuggling minimal sand inside them’, challenge. One that would have even the most dextrous of us in knots. Taking my socks in hand I walk to the shore line. I hold the first sock between my left and right thumb and wriggle the bottom of the sock to the top, and wait for a wave to come and wash my feet off. Once I have a clean foot I balance precariously on the other and slip my toes to the front of the sock, pulling it to the heel and then the straightening of the neck. It’s easier than it sounds. The next step is the same as the first, with the exception of now having to make sure the socked foot, stays dry.

Socks equipped, shoes on and phone in hand, I make my way up the dune. I run up it, with a cigarette in my mouth, supplementing the recommended air with toxic deliciousness instead. It’s a fool’s game, and I’m the best player there is. Stopping at the top, I cast one last long-full look at the majesty stretched out into infinity, and bid her farewell for this fine day, turning to make my way back through the bush, back to civilisation.

The walk is punishing, the heat unrelenting and the risk of premature death, very real. I imagine a dragon sneaking out from a hollow, breath of flame igniting the naturally grown bonfire and setting the earth ablaze. The thought of dragons has spurned my conscious thoughts and efforts to safely dispose of my cigarette, which I crush underfoot and slip into the pack to be disposed of when I get home. No chance I would risk a massive blaze in this temperate environment.

Climbing the last hill, I see the houses come into view and the city spread before me like a Lego town. I can see my house, Tomo’s old man, the park, and the highway hidden behind its tree line. I forgot to mention I saw a bunch of fish. Maybe 10 or 13 of em. Fat. Juicy. I was pretty excited when I saw them, I cried out in delight to an empty beach and felt a little saddened I didn’t have anyone to share these moments with.

Arriving back at home, I throw my rubbish in the bin, jump in the shower and wash the beach off me. Now I can see the damage. My belly is red. My chest is red. My everything us red. But it was worth it. Trying to sleep was a nightmare. Considering it a million degrees at 11pm and no breeze, and my skin was wrapped in a fire suit, I could barely keep my sanity. I might call this battle with nature a draw. Gotta give credit where credit’s due.

And that’s the tale of my sunburn and exciting trip to the beach. Thanks for reading 🙂


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