Yesterday I took Mum’s bike out of the garage and circled the peninsula around its very edge. It was my first time on the new bike track they’ve installed along the river side on the west, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous ride.
Once I reached the bridge in the north, I turned off the track and cycled around underneath it. I’ve never been there before, and it kind of looked like the type of place you might get a knife in the ribs late at night. However in the grey light of oncoming evening, it was really quite lovely. Leaving the bike under some marsh bushes, I waded out on the silt to dip my feet in the river. The tide was low and I could get out almost halfway. I looked back down the river towards Stockton, with Newcastle looming behind it, and for a moment felt very far away from things.
The moment broke as a car pulled up under the pylons. I sprinted back across the sand and up the rocks to the bike, hoping the two men who’d emerged from the car were unpacking fishing rods and not, say, anything I shouldn’t be seeing. Racing back down the road into Stockton itself, I turned sharply across the peninsula and over towards the ocean, stopping on the verge across from the lot where Mum and Dad are building the new house. I leant the bike against the stairs down to the beach, kicked off my sandals, and hit the pale blue water up to my knees, washing off the river mud.
That evening, Mum, Dad and I watched Jeff Who Lives At Home and ate turkey and cranberry sandwiches, and they laughed at each other while making bowls of macadamia ice cream and strawberries. It’s pretty good to be back here.