Yesterday we made it by dingy to Dangar Island. It was perfect, a shabby, beachfront holiday shack with an overgrown garden, friendly, down-to-earth folk, simple food, lots of children and sun and water. The view was glorious, looking south across the mighty Hawkesbury towards Cowan Waters. The tide was at maximum height but soon after we arrived it began receding off the beach and not long after some cherries and strawberries there was space to play.
We all swam in the warm, brown waters which I haven't enjoyed in many years. The children responded to my joy with double their own. We built a sandcastle Christmas Tree together, and decorated it with sticks and flowers, and they made rolled up balls of sand as 'presents' which we later 'opened' to reveal whatever their imaginations wanted - chocolates and bowling sets (!)
Lunch was delicious and simple, around a wooden table on the verandah. Salad, bbq sausages and garlicky potato salad, wine and the children eating cucumber! Near us the bucket of yabbies twitched. Grandad John joined us whilst Linda caught up on her sleep in the shaded hut.
We heard stories that had often breezed about Dangar Island - like the one about the Baron's Crescent bloke who drank two bottles of rum and started a third - his last, for he as not long in this world after that. Or the mysterious history of Matthew's grandfather (details still foggy) who'd won the land in a poker game, the only time he ever won. I loved Mark's quip then how 'it'd be cheaper to buy the place' (meaning he'd wasted much money on poker games). There were more stories over the long afternoon, the men talking on the beach as the children streaked past, racing from one end to the other. About how there there had once been no hut, just the land and they'd slept in a boat shed, and how Matthew had been coming since he was four. Now his own four year old daughter took that spot. They camped at night in the garden, this new generation, the big, private garden with towering trees still uncut, that had seen all these stories unfold.
The tide reversed so far to reveal the muddy flat teeming with oddities. Armies of blue soldier crabs marching for food, strange sponges, hermit crabs shells, sea snails and large crabs encrusted with barnacles and vegetation, so heavy and yet a disguise. I poked one for the children, leaning down close and saying "haha, look at this plant, it looks like a crab - poke - ARGHHHH!!" for it moved like a crab upon that poke and its eight legs erected itself into an unmistakingly defensive crab pose.
A kayak was pulled from under the house complete with two sets of paddles and we were offered its use. Mark and I began to squabble, still on land, about which way to go. I said right, he said left, it was settled by Matthew, and we headed right but ten strokes later the current and wind made us go left. It was a new perspective for me, from such a tiny craft on the big river, that for once, was not so strange, but now a warm, close thing that I knew much better.