It has been a heavy 32 degrees today, so in the evening we cycle up to the beach for some relief, past restaurants humming with the chatter of diners and teenagers gathered on street corners in the amber sunlight. When we arrive my son and I push our bikes through soft sand to the empty racks at the back, grab our rucksack and descend the slatted wooden steps. At the beach café people are sipping drinks on sunloungers or picking over the remains of their dinner. In the distance we see the Strandbeesten, the celebrated creatures made of plastic pipes and bottles that traverse the sands on their rotating legs and swish their rustling tails when the wind stirs them. We walk towards them, barefoot. But there is no wind today and the beasts are chained and subdued, serenaded by a man playing one of four pianos rising from the sand like stranded ships. We double back towards the shore, between people promenading in their swimsuits and two men playing Kubb with beer bottles. Seagulls ride the warm air currents and scour the sands for discarded tit-bits. Closer to the water couples nestle by bottles of wine in wicker baskets; a group of friends congregates around a pizza box. A boot camp club flip their bodies into the air in synch, under the command of an instructor with the physique of a freshly plucked chicken. Children splash by the water’s edge, goaded by their parents to go in deeper. Young couples stroll barefoot beside the waves as a pod of swimmers dives into the water and strikes out towards the horizon. A girl on a paddleboard raises herself to her feet with the caution of a mountain climber. Dogs plough through the shallow water with their noses, dispersing clumps of seaweed. I lead my son into the sea, urging him to ignore the sting of the cold water and let it envelop him until all he feels is its soft weight. Then we swim along the shoreline, between the birds and the surfers, looking back towards the beach teeming with specks of humanity.
There is life. There is so much life. Why the fuck can’t she be part of it?