A Brilliant Day at Oreti Beach

A Brilliant Day on Oreti Beach

Sand lies across the road, not even the whisper of a wind shifts the landscape. Our car rides gently over the ever-changing drifts that disguise the pathway leading to the sea.
A Mazda, lowered, dark and chrome, heads toward us, and skids slightly. I control the jolt of fright as it kicks up a shower of sand and shoots past us, a demon going to another place.
We drive onto the beach, make our way through the remnants of the last full tide, and park facing the sea. I take a deep satisfied breath.
“How beautiful,”’ I say quietly. For that brief moment I had forgotten.
“Doesn’t get better than this,” he murmurs, staring straight ahead
The words in the sentence are betrayed by the unforgiving set of his mouth.
The day lies before us, etched and shining. Waves edged with white end their journey with a muted sparkling break and sweep toward us.
I climb out of the car, and slam the door behind me. The noise splinters the stillness.
I look over the roof of the car. He stands, his arm resting on the open door and glances at me, frowning and wincing.
Ok. He’s made his point. I turn away and look around. We are intruders on a grand landscape. The carved mountains of the west, sculptured in white ice, stand against the blue of the forever. So remote and beautiful as I gaze at them.
He shuts his door, quietly.
We begin wandering toward the headland; green and sunny, sheltering a few seaside baches.
The strident peeps of oystercatchers disturb the serenity as they fly over our heads and quickly disappear, their cries growing faint. I listen and watch – then I bite my lip to stop the tears and concentrate on the black-backed gulls standing valiantly against the swirling water of a wave, while their smaller cousins flap into the air and wait until the surge returns to the sea. More gulls circle and dip above us, crying, calling.
We don’t talk. The day is intoxicating; the sun beats warmly on our backs. The Island is at arm’s length, still with a trace of snow on her peak, every valley and bay visible.
My gut still aches.
At last, in silence, we turn back toward the mountains. Smoke from a fire drifts along the low hills to the west. Everything else shines and shimmers. Beyond the coastline the craggy outline of the distant mountain range glimmers with snow.
“On a clear day, stop and look around you…”
I am whispering.
“Talk, damn it.”
The words stick in my throat.
He hears, sighs, bends down and picks up a broken beer bottle and hurls it at the mountains.