Monthly Archives: October 2014

Puffer Fish

The other morning the sun was shining and the skies were clear after the previous evening’s storm. I had woken early to farewell my partner as she left for work.

After a light breakfast I pottered about the house and yard trying not to make too much noise. Alice was still sleeping off a late night chatting online to her friends. I have learned the hard way that grumpy, sleep deprived teenagers are best to be avoided.

Around 9:00 am she magically appeared on lounge, managing to eat crumpets drowned in cream with her face clued to her iPad. I had not heard her stir. I decided to poke the bear.


“Good morning.”

The bear seemed in a pleasant mood.

“I’ve put your laundry on. I might need a hand later to hang it up. It’s beautiful outside.”

“It still feels cold.”

“It is colder in here than out there. I think we should take the dogs down the beach. Would you like that?”

“Maybe. Could we go to Cheap as Chips?”

“Yep. We can go on the way back from the beach.”


I left Alice to eat her breakfast while I sorted out dog leads. Merckx, our 11 month old Belgian would have to stay home. I was going to take the poodles, Leo a 12 year old miniature and Chantelle a four year standard with a hippy hair-cut.

Merckx seemed to sense that he was missing out and decided to resort to a bit of tail pulling on Chantelle. Leo seemed tired so he would be staying home. I grabbed Chantelle’s lead.

“You can come along next time Mercky. You rat bag.”

Back inside there had been a change. Alice had fully woken now and was having second thoughts about the beach.

“We can’t go to Cheap as Chips if we take Chantelle. She can’t stay in the car.”

“I’ll stay with her while you go in and find what you need.”

“Ah. No. I don’t go into shops by myself.”

“Well we’ll drop Chantelle off at home after the beach and then go to Cheap as Chips.”

“I don’t need to go to the beach then.”


“If you’re not going to the shops on this trip then I don’t need to go. It’s too cold anyway.”

“It’s not cold at all. It’s beautiful and sunny. Besides you said you were fine to come along. It will be good for you to get outside. We can spend sometime together.”

“If you asked me a couple days ago I would have probably said yes. It’s too cold for me today.”

“It was overcast and miserable two days ago. Get you gear we’re going.”

The excuses were about to flow quite quickly so I headed outside to hang some clothes. When I got back Alice had “dressed” for the beach in jeans and a hoodie as dark as her mood.

When I was her age a trip to the seaside with my dad was like Christmas. Somehow I blocked out her complaints and Chantelle and I managed to have Alice come with us without prying her out of the house with a crow bar.

The car ride was uneventful. Alice whined and I refused to let her mood get me down. I even tried a few light hearted jokes – “Should I run over pink short?” I indicated the skate boarding teenager in the middle of the road across the intersection.

“That’s a bit harsh. Though he should have his helmet on. Maybe he deserves to land on his head.”

I parked a short walk from the beach access. Chantelle was leaping and bouncing and tugging at her lead eager to get down on to the sand.

Alice was still complaining. “Why did you have to park so far away?” And, “the wind is cold. I like it not too hot or too cold.”

Down on the sand with Chantelle running free along the low tide mark I saw several surfers compete for a wave. Three stood up and rode their boards to the beach before turning around and paddling back out. That’s the life.

Alice was sullenly shuffling along behind. I am sure that when I was her age there was no place I’d rather be than the beach. I think it was the fact there was no WiFi access down near the water’s edge which upset her.

“Let’s look in the rock pools Alice. See how many sea critters we can find.”

The rock pools were crystal clear and the water was warmly lapping around our ankles.

“Look a fish” said Alice excitedly.


“It was a small one. I wish I brought my phone. I could have taken some photographs.”

“Is it up in the car? Here. Do you want to go and get it?”

Alice nodded and I threw her the car keys. I watched as she almost skipped away up the beach.

I turned my attention to searching the rock pools for little crabs. Some of knee deep pools had rock over hangs, little crannies and caves and sandy bottoms with gardens of swaying sea grasses and sponges. I imagined tiny mermaids swimming their sparklingly clear waters.

Chantelle charging across the rocks to the sand alerted me that Alice was back.

“You should see these rock pools. They’re beautiful. Like mansions for Square Sponge Bob Pants.” I said.

Alice laughed. “I found a dead puffer fish up the beach. I took a photo of it. It is so cool.”

“How far up the beach?”

“Near the where we walked on to the beach. I’ll show you on the way back.”

I showed Alice the little rock gardens and little sea creatures I found and Alice took photographs. Then she surprised me.

“I’m glad we came to the beach. I didn’t want to come but I’m happy you brought me. Thank you.”

I could see she was indeed happy. Relaxed and happy.

We waded and explored the rock pools some more before searching middens of small pebbles and stones for glass. Worn smooth by the ocean currents the shards of green, brown and clear glass were like little jewels gleaming in the sun.

“I would like to find some blue glass.” Alice said.

After a little more searching we headed for home. Alice was glowing and with pride she showed me the decaying puffer fish while I kept Chantelle from rolling in it.

Alice looked at me and said, “Thank you for bringing me here. I have really enjoyed it.”

I smiled. I was considering taking the puffer fish home with me. Insurance for the next time Alice felt unhappy. Of course that wouldn’t work would it? What really made her happy is that I didn’t react to her complaints and I allowed her to find the beauty in the day by herself.