As we enjoy the last days of the Australian summer, Kate Loveday writes about a hot Adelaide day and conjures up a scene we all know well. Sorry if you’re stuck in the office today!
It is hot. Blisteringly, scorchingly hot, with the mercury hovering just below the forty degree Celsius mark. The sun blazes in a clear, blue sky, and all I can think of is the ocean nearby. That wonderful cool, clear water.
I don my swimsuit, a tee, sandals. Splosh on sunscreen, pick up a hat, sunnies, towel, bottle of water, and toss it all into the beach bag. Drive five minutes to the beach and find a park close by.
The water beckons enticingly. Aqua blue, calm, with just a gentle ripple. The sand at the edge of the water glistens in the sun as a wavelet surges gently up onto the shore, before receding lazily to recoup its spent energy. I am amazed to see so few people on the beach and in the water. Plenty of room for many more.
I tumble from the car and cross the hot pavement onto the sand. Trudge through the soft sand. The red-hot sand infiltrates my sandals and my feet burn. Now I know what it’s like to walk over hot coals.
Reaching the strip of hard, wet sand above the water line I shed the sandals and the damp sand cools my feet. I drop the bag. Off with the tee, I head into the water and wade in.
The cool water caresses my legs. Little fish swim only feet from the shore, where ridges in the sandy bottom dig into my feet. Ouch! But they are soon left behind for the smooth, sandy ocean floor.
I’m in waist deep and the water feels cold. There’s only one thing to do—dive under and swim. After the heat, the cold water is sheer bliss! I come up with a gasp, shake my head and push the hair back from my face.
I look around. There are a few other souls in the water nearby. Teenagers splashing, diving and horsing around. A few children on paddle boards. A group of three women a little way off, chest deep, hats on, bobbing down deeper now and then as they hold an animated conversation.
A couple of serious swimmers further out are practising their strokes.
I look down. The water is so clear I can see the shape of my toenails, and the occasional pebble on the sandy bottom. A lone strand of seaweed drifts by. But mainly it’s just clear, rejuvenating water. I swim a bit, do a few stretches and kicks, float lazily. The heat is forgotten.
Ah! This is what I missed so much when I lived in other places—South Australia’s long stretches of sheltered, white, sandy beach. Not crowded. Usually calm enough to actually swim in.
What, no surf? you say. No, if you want surf, go further down the coast. For me, I like to swim, float, cool off. Forget the heat.
This is Adelaide in the summer.