Holidays. Week 3. Monday. Prospective destination: Phillip Island (weather permitting). Forecast: cloudy with a chance of rain.
That, dear reader, was the knife’s edge on which we all retired for the needful deep and dreamy on Sunday night. What was the morning going to hold?
We awoke on the Monday to a sky 60% full of stratocumulus clouds, but with a gusty south-easterly clearing things rapidly. The would-be meteorologists in the community quickly showed their personality tendencies towards either optimism or pessimism, but happily for all of us the optimists won through. We bundled ourselves into the van and set off for the Island, praying that the weather would stay fine.
(Here is a brief précis on Phillip Island for those who have never heard of it before: it is a little island inside Port Phillip Bay, on which the city of Melbourne is built, and it is home to both a MotoGP circuit and fairy penguins, not to mention picturesque little beaches and nature trails. To clarify matters for anyone who is wondering, we did not go to see the motorcycles.)
We alighted at the westernmost point of the island and had a quick look around. It looked good – excellent beachside boardwalks and hardly any tourists.
After a brief time for abluting (that’s a good Scrabble word, by the way) and recovering from the curse that is travel sickness (fresh sea air does wonders) we ventured onto the nature trail.
It was a splendid day. We couldn’t have asked for more. While most people go to Phillip Island during the evening to see the penguins from a bit of a distance (by purchasing tickets to see the famous Penguin Parade – they all march along the beach at around dusk, I believe), we got to see them during the day, up close! Mother Catherine’s sharp eyes spied a little penguin hiding under the boardwalk, and on closer observation (which required the following manoeuvre – I think we should call it “The Postulant”; don’t new gymnastic tricks get named after the person who first performs it?)……we saw…
…not one, but four little penguins! (The fourth one is hiding just at the very right of the picture.) They didn’t seem bothered by us at all, and were happy to just stare right back. Maybe they shared a secret sympathy with us and somehow knew that we sometimes get called penguins too (especially during cappa season).
Here is one of their little nesting boxes, which have been placed all over this part of the island, presumably to encourage their growth and development – I think they look a bit like little wooden igloos:
After the excitement of the penguins, what could compare? Well, God is good, and brought the sun out for us so we could enjoy these spectacular views as we walked:
(The postulants look just like a postcard, don’t you think? And did you notice how well the sky had cleared?)Soon it was time for lunch, and we thought we’d find a nice secluded beach for this. There was only a brief period of anxiety when someone thought we were driving the wrong way down a one-way road (which turned out not to be the case), but otherwise we made it there uneventfully.
After refueling ourselves, some went for a stroll along the beach:
Some took on the challenge of getting as far as they could on the rocks without getting their feet wet:
But some hadn’t taken the rising tide into consideration (for the record, their feet did get wet):
Not quite Monte Cassino, but a very good spot for gathering material for meditation nonetheless!
Our lovely day had to come to an end eventually.But do you know what? Coming back home to the convent after a grand day like the one we had isn’t quite like coming home after a party and feeling a bit sad it’s all over. Instead, we get to come back to the chapel where Our Lord lives, to talk the day over with Him, to relive the magnificent sights and sounds of the sea that He made and to wonder all the more at His works, from the great, big, wide seascapes to the little things that He keeps sort of like a secret surprise, waiting for us to find them – like these!