This may sound like a bit of sentimental tosh..but hey..
Got the old shack up for sale…years ago, back in around 1980..we (the family / brother, sister and the old folks) chipped in a few hundred quid each and bought this block of land on the peninsula and I built a holiday shack there..sure an it was built on the dirt cheap , out of bits of sticky-tape and bent wire sort of, but it was great for the kids to get away from the city and we’d go fishing, crabbing, that sort of thing…
You’d get there and the first thing is you’d run to claim a bed and throw your clobber in one of the two big rooms with four beds in each, grab a crab-rake or fishing rod from the corner and make for the beach..the shack..and it really was a shack..was just to flop in for the night..cook the tucker in and watch the fire burn and crackle before you hit the sack….it was effing great when the kids were growing up..
Some times there’d be half a dozen or so family or friends kids and the parents over for the school hols’ and it would be a whale of a time..sometimes on one of the days, we’d all go to Pt. Vincent to fish off the wharf there and I’d go check out the books and such in the op-shop over the road in St Neot’s church (best find : a first edition USA. of T.E.Lawrence ; “Seven Pillars Of Wisdom” !..heyyyy!) annex and we’d all end the day before going back to the shack with a big butcher’s wrapped paper pack of fish and chips…and how many chips went to the gulls!..the fish being caught local from one of the fishing boats that worked the gulf in the area…geez!..it was good.
But now, the old shack is up for sale, I am getting too old to maintain it..and after the recent hernia operation ( I’ll tell you about it someday!)..it’s all getting a bit too much for me..The kids have grown up into gen Y adults..and are no longer interested in (our self-named) “crab island” or “cockle cove” or “starfish rock”….the shallow flats are “smelly” now..and just who wants to gut and clean their own fish anymore?..indeed…who wants to even go fishing anymore..and the old place has that “old smell” and look..it never was pretty..the old shack..not like the brand-spanking new McMansions popping up all around the little enclave..and NO-WAY will anyone be using the “out-the-back” dunny..even if it is a flush toilet..the spiders?.the dark!? And the rainwater in the old tank..is it safe to drink?…doesn’t everyone nowadays have an ensuite?
And those retirees who came here to getaway from the city…and brought the city expectations with them, expect there to be ; services, no fire risk..and that grey-water run-off from the kitchen and the shower that goes under the trees to keep them watered in the long hot summers..is that a health risk, is it legal?..and if there is a bush fire, those trees around your shack could “catch on fire and send it onto my house..I’m going to ring the council”…But the birds, the animals, you protest..the delicate native lilies and such?..Poison the lot…not a blade of grass..not a hint of verdant cover shall tarnish the scoria and gravel expanse..
It’s the school holidays..and there are no kids fishing..not even an adult walking the beach..nor at the wharf down at Pt. Vincent..no kids, no people even to watch the crayfish boat sidle up to the wharf and unload it’s catch..not a curious soul..what has happened..is this a kind of Brave New World of hideaway people..is there no wonder in nature anymore?..no cry of children in a discovery of delight..Do not the parents delight in showing and explaining even with a touch of bullshit those strange shells and twists of sea-worm casings..to tell lurid tales of the goings on there just around the next cliff of “smugglers cove”..of dark nights and pirates and booty and “Gold doubloons and double moidores and louis d’ors and portagues on Los Meutos…Spanish waters, Spanish waters, ringing in my ears…” and good lord knows what else to see the wide-eyed wonder in their eyes as they fall to sleep snuggled in your lap by the fire in the old shack…
The shack is up for sale now..and I was there to cut the grass and tidy the place up a tad so it’ll look good…But really, it is only being sold for land-value..to be honest..no-one wants a shack anymore..you see..everyone now has an ensuite..the kids their ipads or smart-phones..But you know, as we were walking on the cliff-top road down to the jetty there..for just a moment..be it the wind-blown smell of the mallee trees in flower, or the cry of a gull in the air…for just that one short breath, I was back in the time with the kids and our arms full of fishing gear and buckets and a crab-net and we were all laughing and heading to the jetty and my little boy was saying that he bet he will catch a big, big squid…for just that one short moment..
Time has stolen the years from me , and I could bloody well weep.