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Coastal communion

  • 01 June 2011

In times gone by, on days when there was more water in the air than air, more ocean on the road than guidance, a famously flinty old Presbyterian woman by the name of Mrs Morgan used to remind anyone she'd meet that such wild weather was in fact god's weather, as if the coastal pastorale had taken on a meteorological morality, the sleet stinging sideways by dint of some divine navigation, some barometric embodiment of the punishment of sins.

Since then the religious beliefs in this area have largely changed but as I drove my two little boys to the footy ground on Saturday morning the weather was still front and centre. I found myself telling them briefly about what Mrs Morgan used to say and then found myself issuing them with a challenge. Whoever could count all the whitecaps on the water would win a box of chocolates.

A cruel father? Perhaps, or just the latest in a long line of annoying dads furnishing car-rides with memories designed to last a lifetime.

When the road finally turned slightly away from the shore and we lost sight of the ocean I changed the challenge. Whoever can count all the leaves on the trees wins a brand new Nintendo DS. Patrick, eight years old and an unsuccessful yearner for that very gizmo his whole life, replied that the challenge was an impossible one. When I asked him why he said it was because 'there are so many trees. Even more whitecaps. The world is too massive.'

At the footy ground the gale of course was blowing to the northeastern end, this being a Bass Strait landscape in May. They gathered with their teammates in the synthetic shine of fresh guernseys, boys at the androgynous age, putti really, crying out in the cadence of girls, for the ball in the warm-up, as if they could eat it, like chicks squawking for a worm.

The whistle blew, they played the game, in the rain and a strangely lo-res switching on and off of sunlight, like you might see on YouTube. They battled and chased and tackled, some had a clue, some didn't, some focused on the ball, some on the shadows of clouds passing over, all learning.

And after four quarters it wasn't so much the victory that was cause for the chaotic swelling of the theme song but rather the more obvious holy grail of the sausages and