The waves which had lulled us to sleep were still crashing on the shore and the sand was cool underfoot when we emerged from the tunnel of peppermints onto the beach. I watched Quinn throw sea sponges and cuttlefish carapaces and shreds of seaweed into the creek which pooled, brown and stagnant, into the base of the dunes. Shrugging off my thermal top and woolen shawl, I ran into the waves. Sand and seaweed churned around my legs as I kicked out through the dumpers. Alone on the waves, I gazed out to the lonely islands and back to where my baby ran circles around his father on the sand. The ocean cradled me in its cool and slippery clasp - the place where I have always felt most at peace.
After a gig in Albany we had collected Quinn, bundling his warm and sleepy body into the backseat while his big brothers stayed sleeping at Grandma's. We drove through the night back to where I had pitched our tent at the beach. It was the simplest of camping trips - no chairs, nor tables, not a kettle nor a stove to be seen. After an early morning swim and walk along the beach all we had to do was roll up the mats and tent and drive back down the limestone track to the cafe for pancakes and poached eggs and coffee. It took us back to the days when we had only one child to shower with attention. It went without saying that Quinn got both the tiny teddy biscuits nestled next to our lattes.
We rolled back into Albany for the Farmers' Market and I picked up Darcy from Grandma's and headed home. Grant worked backstage at the matinee performance of his school's play while Lewis and Grandma sat in the stalls watching on. They got home in time for homemade pizza and a crackling old Snow White cassette, snuggling together on the couch as the sun dipped over the hill.
One child, then two, then three - all content and happy as could be. Quinn soaked up his morning as an only child, but was so happy to see his brothers again. They make him who he is - our smiling, sunny, baby boy. And one day soon he too will be ready for a sleepover at Grandma's house. But I think I will hold him in my arms just a little while longer.