Revisiting Tongaporutu, as sublime as ever it was (and will be)

Here we must deal with awe, fascination, and terror, with ignorance shot through with the lightning of certainty, and with feelings of exuberance, love and bliss. — Francis Huxley

I’ve always resisted returning to the same place twice, no matter how grand the landscape or transcendent the experience. The second time could never be as deeply felt, I thought. Why risk disappointment? What hogwash, I realize so many years later—such a wasteful, arbitrary restriction!

Revisiting Tongaporutu cured me. This beach, as any natural landscape might, will always freshen with epiphanies, no matter how many visits. Like a place of worship. I’ve not stopped thinking about this place since we first visited four months ago.

We walked alone in silence. Kenton veered toward the water. I hunkered among the cliffs, drifting in and out of reverie, as I studied the rock faces. I was half-crazed by the colors and patterns, the bulging crevices bursting with life, new birth dripping in the tide’s wake.

Everything, yet nothing in particular, explains why I needed to return to Tongaroputu. I know only that I’ve never, ever, been so exhilarated by a landscape before.

That’s the trouble with this kind of profound beauty. Every glance reveals new possibilities for enchantment. Every surface begs for a close encounter to focus on delicacies of detail. Which is why I have a gazillion photographs.

It was at Tongaporutu that I realized that taking pictures enlivens my consciousness in some fundamental way. I seem to be storing memories as a collage of moments—intimate, intense, invigorating moments of perception.

By the time we left, I’d taken over 600 photographs. My head throbbed. I was dehydrated. I was anxious to go home … to see what grabbed my fevered retina and grey matter that day.

No surprises. Except I notice so many images focus on the pairing of sand and stone, specifically the undulating line on the beach where they curl into the weighty limbs of each other, sharing a destiny with the sea.

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One response to “Revisiting Tongaporutu, as sublime as ever it was (and will be)

  1. Barbara Wells

    Gerri, what a profoundly beautiful way to wrap up your extraordinary six months in NZ. In addition to your photos being source material for creating new art work pieces once you’re back, they deserve to be shown in an exhibit all on their own.

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