I feel like I’ve been in this substance for a good portion of my days in the last few weeks. And I love it. In fact, I think I’m developing fins. We didn’t get much of a summer over Christmas, but February and March have been just fine. And whenever the sun comes out, any self-respecting Kiwi goes to find water. We are spoilt in Auckland, because it sits on an isthmus. At its narrowest point, it is only a mile between west coast (Manukau harbour) and east coast (Waitemata harbour). So no matter what your swimming ability may be, there’s a beach just for you; from the wild plunging surf and black sand of the west coast beaches like Piha and Muriwai (below):
To the quieter, family friendly beaches on the east coast:
And of course, there are the endless lakes that dot our main islands, and are a source of recreation, power supply, fishing and in many cases, drinking water provision. This is Lake Rotoiti.
Anyway, back to water. If you haven’t swum in a while, you’ve forgotten the sheer pleasure of shrugging off your sense of gravity, and just floating. It’s an equaliser. Forget how you look and how much you weigh, as soon as you descend into the loving embrace of the sea/lake, you are almost weightless.
When I lived in Atlanta for nearly four years, I lost touch with my closeness to water – oh, I missed it badly, but I didn’t realise how much until we took a very long drive to the coast and saw the sea again. My kiwi friend and I almost wept for joy seeing it and hearing the gulls and the waves. It is incomprehensible to me that some folks in the States have never seen the sea. For us, it is second nature to find water, and hang out by it.
And although I am talking mainly here, of the sea, I do mean lakes, and waterfalls, and waterways of any shape or size. Now those are things you Americans have in abundance. I’m heading to the UK soon – a place of my forbears – and I know that although they are almost as small as us, in terms of island and sea surround, the weather DOES INDEED make all the difference. I somehow doubt that my British friends feel as captured by the sea and lakes as I am, but I’m very prepared to be proven wrong. In New Zealand, part of a child’s schooling is taken up with swimming lessons, and as a primary teacher, I had to include them in my lesson plan. I think that is some reflection of how much we value the water around us and want to play in it. I’ll leave you with some refreshing pics from recent days: