The sea is pink. It is dawn in Bunbury. Behind me the sun is emerging, as is the Leschenault Inlet. I am oriented and cue in to my day. The short drive to the Marlston Waterfront is where I’m headed. I edge out of my parking bay. Cautiously. There are four police patrol motorbikes crowding two bays to my left. There is a booze bus and more patrol bikes beyond that. The city police are in town to keep people safe on their return home from the Easter break. I make a mental note of this and keep my foot light on the pedal.
The drive is less than a minute. At the Waterfront the sun arrived just before me. Perfect timing. I have photographed this area at sunrise many times before. Across Koombana Bay is the Port. Like celebrity and politics, Nature has the finest PR. The Eastern sky casts the area in the best light until the glare of high noon highlights the industrial aspects of it.
A movement in the water distracts me. I lean over the parapet. A glide. It disappears before my mind fully comprehends it. Is it bird, a snake, (and with apologies to Nessie), perhaps I’ve discovered the Marlston Monster? I track the surface of the water where the ripple is almost imperceptible. A whoosh of big wings and seemingly from underwater, it takes flight. I get a blurry shot. Startled, the mate breaks through the water ceiling. The slender, reed-like neck and head is elegant and exquisite. It tenses for a nanosecond and then, it’s gone. I return the next morning, hoping to experience another encounter. And, I do. But, in a different way. A splash and a hiss and I catch a lone dolphin as it disappears into golden waters. I catch my breath to tuck a wisp of flyaway magic into memory.
The Welcome Swallows chase each other, rest momentarily, and like sunflowers, turn to face the sun. A glint of sunlight on a russet feather is what I’m hoping to catch. After twenty minutes of persistence, as if he knew what I’m looking for, one bold swallow perches and stares me down. He meets me halfway. I don’t get the picture I’m chasing. But, I get a few while cruising. It is a compromise I accept. Life is like this sometimes. You get more, but it equates to far less.
My day is crowded with many unexpected delights during this trip. The last photograph is in words. At kindergarten 3 year olds were seated in a circle, and given a choice for morning greeting: hello, G’day, hola, bon jour, konichiwa. Matching country flags were tagged to the written words, presumably to teach colours. The children choose bon jour unanimously. Hearing the little ones struggle with unfamiliarity, try harder and be successful with prompts was a delight. My eyes, twin suns, shone brighter as each child raised their hand to acknowledge their name being called and in turn, greeted their peers. An occasional, tiny frustrated voice, “I can’t say it!” got a response, “you can try, just try”. Encouragement without judgment! I love the philosophy of this. It is quite possible these children will not grow up to be intolerant adults who shout, “Speak in English” to people who talk in their native language in public.
My children attended child care from a young age. I had no choice. I have and continue to be judged by these circumstances by some whose support in those years would have been invaluable. I do not share my journey of single motherhood with them any more because every challenge of childhood development has been hung on this sharp hook. On rare occasions when I talk about this regret, my children are quick to point out. They thoroughly enjoyed child care. It was where they played with friends. Years later, this trip confirmed it for me. It is a place where, sometimes, you start your day with a “bon jour”.
It’s a good place to leave you …
a dawn bird