Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Hazelblackberry: choking back the tears

Dear Nick,

So last night Grumpy and I pulled the faithful Georgia Satellite up at the Freo wharf to eat our fish and chips. We parked, as it were. [I like the phrase "as it were". I knew I would have a lifelong love affair with Dave van Ronk when I heard him use "as it were" in a song.] It was lovely sitting there watching the ships being loaded and boats motoring up and down the river, sending rounded, lazy waves towards the side of the wharf. As I watched the waves wash towards us I had a eureka moment re jam-making: "Maybe that's what a rolling boil should look like," I thought. I shall keep it mind.

We've been eating a lot of fish & chips lately. And eating them down at the wharf. It's most pleasant. Last night was a little pleasantus interruptus, though, when I choked on a squid ring (you may know them as calamari). This sometimes happens to me: half the squid ring starts heading down my gullet while the other half stays in my mouth, the two bits firmly connected by a resilient stringy bit. The bit in my mouth can't go down yet because it's still whole so I find myself having to grab it and hoick the other half-swallowed piece back up out of my throat via its little bungee rope.

It might be difficult to believe, but you'd be hard pressed to notice it was happening. I carry the whole operation out with a grim, silent gagging. It occurs to me as I perform the extraction that this is what it must feel like post-heart surgery as they take out The Tube. And with all the fish & chips I've been gobbling, the more experience I get on post-heart surgery procedures the better.

Then of course the seagulls arrive. Some of them tucking one leg up to look pitiful. I'm a sucker for a pitiful look. A bit like Charlie Brown taunting the kite-eating tree and then throwing his kite up into it because he feels sorry for it. Occasionally a pelican comes in. Not to scavenge food, simply to be sociable. They really are Spruce Gooses, aren't they? I like pelicans. Though...I have found them just a wee bit creepy ever since the day I noticed the little fingernail thing at the end of their beaks. Shudder. Like the day I got near a cocky on our balcony in Canberra and the little bugger hissed at me. I had to admire his guts (and he did have the cutest little round guts) but that hiss was mightily off-putting.

The birds, you will be relieved to know, are not the only life at the wharf. Which is just as well. Charming though they may be, I'm not sure how they'd go as stevedores. Night and day there's plenty of activity buzzing around the ships and people getting on and off the Rottnest ferries, others fishing late into the night, and yet other people just wandering back and forth enjoying the water and the breeze and the bustle. I can see why Otis Redding spent so much time sitting on the dock of the bay, contemplating his navel.

It's alright for some, innit?

Until next time, Nick.

hb




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