Sunday, December 10, 2017

Made of negative ion

I took a clapped-out Southern Line train, with its ripped up seats, deeply scratched perspex windows and the monotonous graffiti found worldwide, to Kalkbay. I didn't - even for a single minute - allow the clackety-clack of the steel-on-steel to dull my senses during the 50-minute peak-hour train ride: I was alert to my possessions, to my pockets, to the zips and pouches of my backpack.

But , I only headed southwards after scrutinising the tide times, choosing, too, to get there before the December tourist hordes would begin (quite understandably) to clog and choke the southern peninsula, not noticing the fresh-minted menus now gleaming with inflated seasonal prices.

My destination was the Brass Bell restaurant; it's a jumble of an old-school place (starting out in 1939 as a city council 'tea-room'), almost indecipherable, that with eight different dining locations, protrudes haphazardly into the ocean. It's quiet there mid-week, especially in that magical, hazy  space between late afternoon and early evening now that the days linger for so long.

I checked the timing of the tides because I have a favourite seat at a favourite table where, at high tide, the surf has been known to furiously smash against - and batter - the windows. While you stare, blink, eat, jerk your head back, stare again. Because this was in the week of a blue moon, the tides were more passionate, more rage-filled than during a normal full moon.

I wanted to be as close to the ocean as possible, to gulp in deep its tangy salt air, it’s ozone and the negative ions, which Nature creates in heady abundance when water, sunlight, air and our Earth's inherent radiation meet. Negatively charged ions are good, very good. So are the places they're found in: they are most prevalent in natural places and particularly around moving water or after a thunderstorm. It's that taste in the air.

I've always been drawn to the ocean; it's where I charge my batteries and seek intimacy with my Creator. In Cape Town, there are two oceans: the Indian and Atlantic. Thinking of oceans, I'm currently reading British writer Amy Liptrot's autobiographical The Outrun, which is intricately entwined with the ocean; she grew up on the Scottish Orkney islands and returns to them, to both heal and to find herself, after she's left battered and broken by life in London.

She writes about the interconnectivity and borderlessness of the ocean:

"By swimming in the sea, I cross the normal boundaries. I'm no longer on land but part of the body of water making up all the oceans of the world, which moves, ebbing and flowing under and around me. Naked on the beach, I am a selkie slipped from its skin."

As for the Brass Bell, I know that the day must come, most likely soon, when a gleaming-eyed consortium of developers makes the right offer on the property. Then, before you know it, it'll be all open plan with lines smoothed out, all chrome and plushness, all expensive but perfect for the in-crowd. 

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