A letter from summer

Dear day, dear week.
Dear month, year…


Roll on summer, roll on.
Roll on summer, roll on.


The swell rolls in.
It’s gonna break.
It’s gonna break before it reaches me.
No it’s not.


Michael Gordon died on a Saturday.


This summer the plants in our yard are establishing; thriving. In the winter we planted grape vine, wisteria, a Japanese maple, lots of little correa, grevillea. And with the summer comes the light, the energy. And with energy, and with water, has come life.


I never met Micky Gordon.
I grew up reading his articles. And now I feel his death. I feel it via heartfelt responses from many that I admire. These people exist mainly outside of my humble orbit. And these people could be roughly characterised as “doers.” The source of my admiration for most of them stemming from my agreement with their basic life philosophy. A kind of recognition. An “I-reckon-I’d-get-along-alright-with-that-person” kind of feeling.


The wind.
The light.
Gulls appear to hover over the dunes.
It’s a squinty-eyed morning on the beach, as Trinity and I jog a few k’s; rising sun before us.
“Let’s keep going ’til we reach those stairs.”


Summer sport failed to claim me.
The Test summer, shoe-horned into such a tight, tight schedule lacked sufficient time to pause; to imagine. The pause is an essential component of a Test match. Important in a Test series. The pause allows reflection. It allows recuperation. And acclimatisation. The pause is the furnace of expectation, of anticipation. It is where the story starts and where the story ends.

I am in fierce agreement with Malcolm Knox regarding the summer now still underway.

Attending my first Big Bash League game brought no surprises.
By the second innings, the kids with us sensibly preferred to run around the grandstand staircase than watch confected dross.


Trinity and I run on.
We reach the stairs.
Mountains of the nearby National Park loom across the sea.
We’re on a spectacularly open and wide Victorian beach.
Turning, it’s happily clear that ’til now we’ve had a slight headwind.


Michael Gordon
Ron Tandberg
John Clarke


I wonder a lot.
Maybe too much.


Last year, Martin Flanagan wrote a letter that was published on the Footy Almanac, in which he concluded:
“Give me your testimony! Here’s mine. I went looking for good people and I found them. Not here and there but everywhere, under every human rock I lifted. My father and his mates emerged from a war crime believing in compassion. Then, incredibly, I encountered similar views among Aboriginal elders, not the odd one here and there but again and again so that in the end I concluded it was a characteristic of their culture which, notwithstanding all the injuries and insults to which it has been subjected, is still at work in this land. And all the time, for light relief, I’ve been watching this game, this game which just happens to be ours, which still attracts young men, and now young women, who fly for the ball with no fear in their eyes.
Take the game on, old mate…”



Late afternoon.
I’m up and over the rising, building, roll of swell.
And the next.
And the next.
(Look at them all. Lining up. Will they ever end?)
That buoyancy of the sea, the sea squished here against rising seabed, the sea here, pushed by wind and air pressure and currents, pulsing, forced up the hill, against gravity, taking me with it.
And over.
Water droplets flick off the crest; whipped by the northerly.
They shower the ocean behind.


I’m reminded of the importance of the actions of a person, the compassion of a person; how it is in small interactions that one person can make a difference to another. Does anybody consciously say to themselves: I will now choose to make life difficult for many many people?
Maybe they do.
If so, what could possibly be their motivation?
I wonder.


“Take the game on, old mate.”


Returning, Trinity and I pass the odd walker ambling along the beach, rising sun reflected in sunglasses.
A few dogs.
Crab tracks haphazardly criss-cross the sand.
I guess at the industry here earlier; small lives spent hunting, gathering; surviving… until… what?


Many people who played the role of moral compasses in my life no longer do so.
Retirement, job changes, even death have come knocking.

All of this plays out as an absence of sense in my life.
An absence of thought-provoking voice.


Trinity and I walk back from the beach.
Our kids and mates, campers, slouch about in fold-out chairs, books in laps. Lie on the hammock. Move slowly about the camp kitchen.

“Who’d like a cuppa tea?”

Camp stove alight, kettle of water warming.
Empty cereal bowls litter the sandy ground.


“Take the game on, old mate.”


It’s all a bit confusing.
Air time seems ceded to the certain.
To the loudest opinion goes the attention.
Or the most controversial opinion.
Look at me.
Look at me.

But more than that, more than being a time of certainty in oneself.
When opinion is presented as fact.
And loudest voice wins.
With so many loud voices.
It’s exhausting and it’s dangerous and it’s difficult.

When influence can be purchased.

When the views of the rich, the opinionated, carry the day.
It’s narcissistic.
But worse. As Ideas are OUT. Personalities are IN.

Katharine Murphy writes of this now dominating our national politics.



“I know what I’ll do, Dad.”
“I’ll collect some shells.”


Time for quiet reflection, for thought, for debate, seems to have flown. In wider society, a gaggle of talking heads, podcasts, talkback, panel shows compete for our attention.

I find it interesting that in response to these times of social media stimulus, of individualism, that footy clubs have moved to direct player gaze inwards. Schools, too, are spending time and effort (and money) promoting mental health. Meditation, reflection, quiet thought. I wrote here last year of “The Resilience Project,” for example.



Buddy Yum (10-years-old) takes my hand.
Deeper water.
Her older sister, a few steps behind, laughs like a drain.
They’re both laughing.
We’re all laughing.
“Oh, Dadda. Bud Oon just copped a wave right in the face.”
“Yeah Dad, I had my back to the waves and I was singing out loud then I turned around and SPLAT!”
Sunlight glints from their faces; heads thrown back, each of long hair, full of salty water.



What are we, anyway?


The IN crowd fortify their positions.
Painting themselves as victims if threatened.
Keeping the rest of us OUT.




I fear for the voiceless.
Those without voice, or opportunity to voice.
M Gordon gave voice to some of these people.
R Tandberg, too.
J Clarke.

Who will speak for the voiceless?
What is a life?


“Take the game on, old mate.”



I’m perched on a rock. The bundle in my lap is hot now, too hot to leave alone. I must move it; scoop it up. I scoop it up. Relief surges; tingles.
“Carn buds! Mum’s back!”

A light breeze ruffles my shirt, stiff with salt.

“Dad, I’ve got sandy hands.”
“Me too.”


I see local cricket clubs building up towards finals.
Netball team managers trying to sort out team lists, uniforms.



“Hmm. If only there was a huge body of water nearby for you to wash them…”

They return from the water’s edge with wet, salty hands, and now we’re tearing open the fish and chips. We’re fashioning ersatz plates. We’re blowing on fingers.

“Whoah! These chips are hot!”



I wonder how much longer any of us have left.
I wonder how we’re leaving things.




I see campers playing cards, Scrabble, cooking meals. I see kids playing a makeshift game of evolving rules, using twigs, scratches in the ground. I hear the laughing.
I see touch footy on the beach.

Connections being made, memories being made.

The laughing.



The swell rolls in.
The swell rolls in.
Roll on summer, roll on.



Speech via Tony Wilson’s “Speakola” site (http://speakola.com/eulogy/for-michael-gordon-by-martin-flanagan-2018)

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Lovely work ER.

    I have discussions with my mother from time to time. I’m disgruntled with the world. Frustrations can boil over. Its OK, she says, to ignore the messenger. But make sure you heed the message. Is the problem these days that the message is lost? Or ignored? Or simply misunderstood?

    I love the beach. It talks to me.

  2. Thanks ER.

    I think you have answered your own questions.

    For me, weltschmerz and hope are in state of constant tension, if not battle. I refuse to tally the score though.

  3. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    I’m not sure whether to smile or sob at the end of this. Perhaps a little of both.
    There are some superb images and paragraphs here Mountain Ash. You’ve gathered them so delicately like the beach-combings of your young Bud.
    As one of two sisters who spent considerable stretches of summer on the beach, often with my Dad, this rings all sorts of yearnings in me, especially in the face of where we are now as adults in this congested world.
    Thanks for the care with words. And the pauses. As summer rolls towards autumn …

  4. mickey randall says

    Thanks Er.

    I really enjoyed this especially the thoughts on the pause. I love a pause: Warney at the top of his mark; the Violent Femmes use of it across Blister in the Sun; the beat Richie Benaud would leave between something momentous and his first words.

  5. Painfully honest. Honestly? Painful.
    So much that reminds me of me a decade ago; yin and yang; zig and zag. On the one hand and on the other hand. “God give me a one handed economist.” (Who said that?)
    My antidote has been to switch off everything negative. Politics. TV (except sport and quality drama). Buying stuff. I just invest in people and time (having squandered too much) and things that give smiles and hope. Like golf – lots of hope with the occasional smile – but in a beautiful environment with mates.
    Jarringly – you say you have lost moral compasses. I doubt it. Sounds like you are just in transition from one to another.
    Loneliness (with or without people around you) is the greatest curse of our society. Pretending to be on the outside, what we don’t feel on the inside. Listening to the echo chamber of our doubts and fears.
    We die alone and many live that way, but I know that we thrive and truly live in connection and community. Having found mine (12 Steps and the Almanac community notably among them) I refuse to listen to any other Sirens.
    Hope you find (recognise?) yours. I am sure they surround you.

  6. e.r.
    Can you miss something even though it is not yet gone?
    I am already missing summer and it is not even over yet.

  7. Jennifer Muirden says

    Another thoroughly thought provoking piece, David.

    Over the last few weeks, being in a transitional stage of my life, I too have spent a great deal of time contemplating the people who have been moral compasses in my life thus your words powerfully resonate with me.

    So wish I was down at the Prom right now mindfully taking in the sounds of the lapping waves and feeling and hearing the squeaky sand squelch between my toes! Maybe this weekend …?

  8. Kasey Symons says

    Beautiful. You are an exceptionally talented writer ER.

  9. Lovely drift in the tempo, and the rhythm of your words David .

    Capturing the essence of our summer, almost done..

    Just awakened from an afternoon pause, the quintessential nap,
    Replenishes and nourishes the soul and slows down the thinking processes.

  10. Thank you, thank you all.


    Go well.

  11. E. Regnans the new Martin Flanagan.

  12. This wonderful E and I’m afraid I am lost for words. But I did used to have a weltschmerz/schnauzer cross.

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Beautifully written Dave.

    Correa are such an underrated gem of a native plant.

    I wonder about time left and leaving things too.

    Roll on ER, roll on

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