On Christmas day, I drove out to Aramoana - 'gateway to the sea' - and was surprised to find a green beach, waves foaming like hot spinach soup.
Each time I go walking out there, I know I'm in for a different experience; this time, the sea had tossed up a surreal and extravagant carpet of frilly green seaweed. A solitary oyster catcher was having a feast, his red-pencil beak dipping in and out of the spongy squelch, his small black head thrown back every now and then to gulp and swallow. (What bird can equal an oyster catcher in earnestness and attitude?)
I walked the length of the beach several times, soaking up the smelly pleasures of salt and kelp and slowly rising heat, my bare feet coming to grips with a whole new vocabulary of sound and texture.