Signs and wonders

Signs and wonders

I had a hunch about it for years. Each time we drove along the peninsula road from our home in Rosyln, I’d find myself sensing, as we swung into Turnbulls Bay: this place. Then I’d forget it.

2015, we’d finished a three-year stint of house-sitting in the north (roughly orbiting our small grandsons in Akld) having agreed that if we moved back to Dunedin, it would be to the peninsula. Houses for sale were few and so we kept alert.

We were the first to view Moerangi Street with its hundred-year-old house and established quarter acre. Within minutes, Raymond and I agreed: we would make an offer. Standing together on the front lawn, we told the agent. At that moment a blackbird swooped over and shat white shit down his black shirt. Done! (Although it wasn’t quite that simple. The owner had been reluctant to leave their home of 55 years and he died that night. It was a few more days before his family could agree to part with the beloved family property.)

Others have written of the joys of life in Broad Bay: the ever-changing sea and sky, the burgeoning bush-care and pest control that allows birds to flourish, the waterfront walkway, friendships and gatherings (community garden, vege co-op, conservation and book groups, Choir!Choir!—the community that warms with familiarity), and the swimming.

Two years ago, a handful of us agreed to try and swim every day on the high tide, even—or especially—through the winter. We did pretty well, braving sou’westers off the end of Gwyn Street, nor’easterlies from Sandpiper or Broad Bay Beach, pushing off from nooks and crannies in Yellow Head or Turnbulls Bay. When temperatures fell below ten degrees or so, we added polypropylene gloves and booties. The Otago Peninsula Chilly Dippers came into being.

This year, the group remains dedicated to the ideal, although few of us feel the compulsion daily. Once or twice a week dips keep us adapted to the bite and burn of cold water, to the strange joy of immersion. We never tire of the elation we experience as we dry off, rug up and head home, buzzing and revivified.

As I write this, sou’west gales blast muddied water into the bay, topped with scudding white caps. It’s high tide. My feet are cold. Wind rattles the house and the jug is boiling.

Maybe tomorrow.

By Penelope Todd

(Chilly Dippers image by Lyn Collins)

Comments are closed.