I got to thinking when I was out on my early morning walk today (I do that sometimes—think. Not often, and hardly ever in the early morning, but sometimes . . . ) Anyway, I got to thinking how easy it is to forget, when you wake up to it every day, just how beautiful it is here where I live.
I have lived in North Haven (on the mid north coast of NSW) for around 13 years now. I love it, but I do have to remind myself on occasion not to take it all too much for granted.
The Camden Haven (of which North Haven is just one small part) is blessed with a spectacular coastline and beaches, extensive waterways and lagoons, walking tracks and cycle paths aplenty, and abundant birdlife and native animals (all of which my Mabel, Maude or Molly have attempted to chase or catch at one time or another . . . )
The Camden Haven River runs, literally, past the end of my street. When the girls and I go out for our early constitutional our biggest decision is whether to turn left and follow the breakwall alongside the river all the way down to North Haven Beach (that would be Maudie’s preference—Maudie just loves the beach) or whether to turn right and follow that same pathway in the other direction—up towards the boat-ramp through the mangroves and then on towards town (which would, in truth, also suit Maudie as she has a special friend at the bakers we pass, who often saves a little fresh-baked treat for her).
Either way, the walk, and the scenery is gorgeous and it’s a calm and pleasant way to start the day. (Unless the girls see a kangaroo . . . which we quite often do. In the early early morning kangaroos are usually heading back into the bush after sneaking into town during the night to feast on people’s lawns. I can always tell when one has been in our street. My sister’s dog (in England) likes to roll in fox pee—Mabel likes ‘roo poo’ and she is always the first to find it.)
Living by the river seems to breed early risers. No matter how early we are up there are always a few others out and about before us. Just before dawn the fisherman have already set up in their favourite spots along the wall, rods and bait boxes at the ready. Then there are the other early morning walkers, one or two joggers and cyclers, and, believe it or not, once we even came across a ‘mature’ lady happily hurtling along at full throttle on her son’s skateboard. (I think she was a bit surprised, and abashed, to see anyone else out and about before 5.00am, but she explained that her son wouldn’t let her ‘have a go’ when he was around so she had taken matters into her own hands. Go girl!)
And, of course, you can always tell if it’s going to a nice day, even before the sun is up, by the number of cars and boat trailers lined up haphazardly across the carpark as they wait their turn at the boat ramp. As you can imagine, with the river and the sea in such close proximity, being in and on, the water is a must. Well—for most people . . .
I freely admit that, although I am very fond of the river, I am not so fond as to actually go in it. My mother always says we come from a family of ‘people watchers’ and she is dead right. I am not much of a joiner-in-er. I am much more in my element sitting comfortably on the grassy riverbank, in the shade, with the dogs, watching the boats and tinnies streak up the river on their way out to the fishing grounds off-shore, or waving to the kayakers as they pass me, or giggling at the lone paddleboarder paddling valiantly against the tide for all he is worth—and getting absolutely nowhere. (Bless.)
And then there are the dolphins. I could sit and watch the dolphins all day. They cruise up and down our river in little family pods with such regularity that sometimes I am actually surprised when someone comments on them being there. It’s too easy to forget that not everyone gets to see such a fabulous sight nearly every single day.
And if I get bored watching the people on the water (and wondering if they are wondering what is in the water beneath them) I can always watch the parrots and galahs squabbling, or the cockatoos feeding in the trees, or the myriad other waterbirds whose names I do not know—or, my favourites, the pelicans who gather in bustling, pushy crowds around the fish cleaning tables waiting for scraps thrown by the fishermen.
Perhaps I should do more of my thinking in the early morning. When it is still calm and clear and the day’s bustle and noise has not yet taken over. It’s easier to be mindful and grateful for things before the working day takes over.
So I am going to try and make an effort to just stop every now and then, and take a moment, and remind myself of just how lucky I am. To be where I am. To live where I live. And I am going to try and keep reminding myself of it every single day . . .