An Autumn Day and Oyster Shells


Port Melbourne: 8-20 degrees and my phone shows a big yellow sun on Monday, May 18.

The dawn is pink and the tide low, leaving a scalloped shoreline from the Lagoon Pier to the Kerferd Road Pier. Smal, flat sandy islands, some of them populated by a couple of gulls on the seaward side, are connected to the beach by water-rippled and barely exposed peninsulars of sand.

The tide is just starting to turn by the time I get down to the water’s edge at mid morning. The air is still and the sea quietly moves inwards in shallow, curving ripples.The pace is slow on the beach; serious exercise is confined to the footpath beside Beach Road.

Shells crunch under my shoes and I realize that a lot of oyster shells have been washed up. They lie partially embedded in the sand with their weathered grey and buff ridged domes exposed to the sun.


I like to turn them over to see what patterns, what paintings, have been etched into their sheltered concavities. Each one is different and each is a perfectly composed image within a rippled frame.



I sit on the sand, not exactly warm but not too cold. The Bay is in front and the City behind. The traffic sounds quite muted today with only an occasional blare of sound from an accelerating truck. The red and white Spirit of Tasmania Ferry punctuates the Port end and St Kilda , Brighton and Sandringham curve around to the left. The water stretches to a silvery horizon.

A solitary swimmer cuts through the water, safely inside the yellow boat markers. He (I think ‘he’) has a strong, fast stroke and a steady kick. His black wetsuit has a red strip on the inside arms and the insistent, rhythmic red and black flashing of his arms gives him the look of a brightly coloured sea creature. Surprisingly quickly he has moved right past me.

Dogs bustle by, the owners look relaxed and the sand island in front of me is now covered in water. Five gulls are actively dipping their heads, flapping wings, walking and watching the water.

It’s feeding time for them and coffee time for me.


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