General Non-Fiction posted June 1, 2024

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A Sense of Place

The Lake with the Long Jetty

by Wendy G

To the right is an ocean beach with golden sands, safe, calm rock pools with tiny marine life, and clear blue water. Toddlers, with bright sunhats, play together, with watchful parents supervising. How beautiful to see a number of different cultures enjoying time together, all eyes blind to differences of colour and nationality. Smiles are a universal language.

A little further on there are surfing beaches, where beginners try out boogie boards, and the more experienced surfers triumphantly and joyfully ride the waves. It’s a happy place – and that’s where we spent Friday.

To the left, a narrow isthmus leads to a large lake, edged with low shrubs and parkland. Colourful boats with languid fishermen, hats and caps pulled low against the glare, dot the equally sparkling water of the lake.

A long wooden jetty protrudes, pointing towards the middle of the lake, and walkers enjoy strolling along it hand in hand, children on rollerblades zipping in and out around them. The summer heat is tempered by a cooling sea breeze. The sky is a deep blue, and almost cloudless. This too is a happy place.

Today is Saturday, and it’s special, for this is the monthly market-day in the beautiful and expansive green parkland beside the lake. How glad I am that this has remained public land for all to enjoy.

Bright stalls have popped up along the lakeside, and excited vendors are preparing their displays – plants, imaginative hand-made crafts including jewellery, silk-screened scarves, decorative candles and soaps, and beautiful artisan work on wood, leather, glass and ceramics. Home-made jams, chutneys, and pickles with unusual but delectable combinations of ingredients are carefully arranged, waiting to be checked out.

Pop-up food stalls are doing fine business, all cheerfully competing – from early morning till late afternoon. So are the ice-cream and gelato vans, each playing music to attract the children. The aromas of the huge variety of international cuisines are tantalising. We’ll sample a few different cuisines, unable to resist … The cooks are kept busy, but the lines of customers are cheerful and patient, reflecting the mood of the holiday atmosphere.

Massive trees provide welcome shade, and park benches offer respite for the weary or elderly. Picnic rugs are spread out and children dart around them as they excitedly catch up with friends.

Everyone comes to the market, not only the locals but tourists from all the neighbouring beach accommodation, from the grand and up-market to caravan parks and shabby weekenders. All are united in celebrating a carefree and relaxing day outdoors. Strangers smile at each other; conversation is easy and natural. It’s a happy place.

For many, this outing includes the family dog. Even the dogs are happy, wandering up to each other, tails wagging excitedly, for a sniff and a lick. These dogs have mostly never seen each other before – and like their owners, they are of all shapes and sizes, and backgrounds; some are pure-bred, others of questionable lineage, but there’s no judgment.

Where else would you find fifty or more dogs all getting along, even sharing water bowls, all enjoying the socialisation? The relaxed atmosphere keeps them at ease too. Goodness, there are even stalls selling gourmet dog food and healthy treats, and winter jackets for dogs, along with the latest fashion in dog-collars and leashes. This is a wonderful and happy place, even for dogs, who like nothing better than a morning spent walking around with their humans.

It is a sensory delight. The vibrant colours, the noise of chatter and laughter, the spontaneous conversations amongst young and old people of all nationalities, the sound of seagulls screeching their pleasure at a fisherman’s success (there will surely be scraps for their dining pleasure too!) all set in a place of unsurpassable beauty, the tastes of good food beautifully cooked with fresh produce, sometimes harvested that very morning from a cottage vegetable garden – can anything equal this?

You’re thinking that perhaps this is a well-known, overdeveloped, and overcrowded holiday venue? Not at all. It’s a little bit off the beaten track, not famous, but those who have been once often choose to return.

And so will we – next weekend. It’s my happy place!

Sense of Place Short Story writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a 400 to 700 word story that describes a place. This should be a descriptive so make sure you describe the place very well. This place you are describing can not be a place in your imagination, dreams, ext. It has to be a real place, preferably a place you know very well. You do not have to have been to this place, and this can be a made up story. Be creative and descriptive!

Note: I have used British English throughout, hence "accommodation" (like information") as a singular noun with a plural meaning (rather than "accommodations", which is acceptable in US English).

In more general, commonly used, contexts, the plural form will also be accommodation.}
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