(The Art of Creation)
The day starts with the sound of zips and the smell of damp shorts left in your car from the day before. You’re down at the same beach you’ve surfed since you were a teenager, the early morning sun and salty breeze awakening you from the outside in.
You catch a few waves, and remember what it felt like the first time you did that: not nearly as comfortable, but more of a rush. When you drive back home, you notice how the trees have gradually receded and think about when you used to have to navigate logs and bogs to get here, and how now it’s just a road like any other. At home, you swap sandy feet for thick socks and work boots, and head out with hair sticky from the ocean, messy like in your youth. You’re heading to the place you’ve gone almost every day for as long as you can remember.
At the winery, your daily list of tasks gets ticked off and grows simultaneously. You’re surrounded by the grape vines that’ve been growing longer than you have, that fruit and wither and rejuvenate just as you have, over time. You go out to check them, and remember that time you were stung by a bee there as a kid. Endless bee stings, in fact. You used to pull weeds in here with your friends. You’d talk among yourselves about what girls you liked, though you were all really just distracting yourselves from the likelihood of there being snakes in the grass, which no one wanted to admit they feared.
The pickers who’d come each harvest used to give you shit for your developing biceps and your adolescent stature, and you think about how now you’re less awkward looking, but lack the boundless energy you had in youth. It makes you laugh. You used to spend your holidays washing used picking buckets so the sugar from the grapes wouldn’t turn to vinegar and compromise the next day’s haul. You can still sense the action: hose, flip, hose some more, stack, and repeat until infinity. Of course, infinity never ends and this year you will be back ceaselessly cleaning buckets, floors and tanks. Later, you drive home through trees that whip past with golden sunlight streaming through, flickering in your peripheries. It’s so pacifying it almost feels dangerous.
You’ve driven this road so many times it’s now automatic, as if you’re sitting motionless in a waiting room, lost in a nature documentary that’s playing out in real time rather than on the small TV suspended in the corner. It reminds you how small a piece you are in this prehistoric web of matter and animals and air, which is both liberating and stirs a sense of responsibility. You pass that tree that nearly killed you that time, and your dad’s driveway, and that sign that reads Wilyabrup even though you think it should read Willyabrup, and now you’re almost home. From your veranda, the sun sets over the water that’s just visible. You rock back and forth in your chair and drink a beer. The day ends with the moon luminous and bold.
-Words by Emma Pegrum