Nestled in the noontime shade of the caravan awning I was trying to read, but my attention kept being dragged away by the world around me. It was the kind of sparkling day that casts everything in its best light: the rippling rust track to the beach and streaky blue of the lagoon; the angular green pandanus straps and fat creamy frangipanis.
Rosie had gone swimming with her new friend Layla, clambering across the black rocks into a secret bay where they collected tiny jellyfish and giggled. Daniel was off with the boys, and in the loping shade of the fig tree Mark was engrossed in his bird book: “Woohoo! A new race of varied sittella.”
In front of me, the baby was discovering the delights of running in small circles. She threw her head back, laughing up at the sunlit canopy of leaves, revealing eight perfect little white teeth. She had dressed herself for the first time that day – or rather, undressed herself. Discarded her nappy and T-shirt to the dust before digging through the shoe bucket to find her tiny mauve thongs.
“Ish. Ish,” she’d demanded. Shoes. Shoes.
I’d lifted her onto my lap and wedged her pudgy, nut-brown feet, daubed in dust and mossie bites, into the straps. Hopping down she’d swung her arms with exaggeration. Pride. Other than her dimpled white bottom, she’d accessorised further only with a dive mask atop her baby blonde hair.
A ute pulled up beside us and the driver called over: “Your boy’s gone spear fishing. I advised them to try not to spear each other.”
Mark looked up from his book and laughed: “Good advice.”
Inside I smiled: he’s having an adventure. And just as I was pondering exactly what that adventure might entail, a boy of about ten appeared from the sand dunes, briskly walking along the grass in his boardies, black skin glistening wet, carrying a long slim spear. Soon there followed another boy, wandering up the red track with an olive-green mud crab dangling from his hand, its nippers like Popeye on spinach.
A slip of sea breeze stirred my skin, like being ever so lightly draped with freshly washed sheets.
Yes, I thought, this is why we are here. I think we might stay a while.