Yesterday afternoon I went out clambering over some rocks to take a few photos. It was a lovely winter afternoon; cool, sunny and still. This was a spot I’ve visited many times, but never fully explored. In previous years I’ve taken some amazing photos from around here, but always from the safety of the shore, or the beachfront. I’d never ventured out onto the rocks that extended out from the shoreline into the sea.
As often happens the doing was far harder and less romantic than the idea. The rocks were huge; the smallest ones the size of an oven, the largest as big as a small car. They were jagged and hard to traverse at times. It all seemed more tame and manageable from the shoreline. I never felt unsafe. But, in the rapidly fading afternoon light, I was careful of my footing; the idea of falling into the cold ocean, or onto the craggy reaches below was not at all appealing.
I set out looking for a rock large enough and flat enough to set my tripod, well out from the shore. About halfway to what looked like a possible location I spotted an old fisherman, making his way back in. As we met, we started to chat and exchange stories on what had moved us to walk over this uncertain terrain.
It turned out the fisherman was 83 years of age. He was well-groomed, tanned and very fit looking for his age, with a full head of gently grey, medium length hair that faded to white at the temples. We were similarly attired, in jeans, sneakers and light cotton jumpers.
The fisherman spoke quietly, but with confidence, spark and good humour in his voice. He often came to this place, as much to fish as to watch the sunsets. He complained a little that his sore knees made it hard to climb over the rocks. But, to me, he looked very sure footed and was certainly not short of breath when we spoke, having just made his way over a hundred metres or so of rocks that were certainly giving me sore ankles and a few nervous moments while hauling my camera gear.
Unfortunately, he had caught no fish, despite favourable tides and weather conditions. He wasn’t all together sure if he had the right bait and had decided to feed what was left to his pet birds. Next time he might try a different lure.
Despite this, the fisherman was cheerful. His failure to catch anything was an amusing topic of conversation for him and nothing more. Much like wondering aloud if the coming night would be as cold and icy as the one before.
As we parted, I realised the rocks ahead of me, the ones I had watched the old fisherman slowly but steadily make his way across, were even rougher and sharper than the ones I had already traversed. I was constantly fighting the urge to stop, and settle for a comfortable spot close to where I was. But, I hadn’t come all this way to do that, so I pushed myself further out, over the rocks.