In the beginning, Mama and Papa Toa made my little sister Jess. This curly girl was a unique addition to the world when she wriggled raucously into our lives. The night that she was born, my Dad made rhubarb stew for the rest of us sisters.
On St Patrick's Day 2012, there was a sacred gathering of the clan from bluff to cape to city, to see Jess marry the man of her dreams, a dready Birmingham boy called Dan. They were married in a cave (of course) complete with a disco ball, seven sisters, a St Patrick's Day-born spare mum, broods of Toa teens and babies, a coupla hundred mates and a canine ring bearer called Boodgie ...
"Yes ... that's not against the law, is it?"
"No. But that one," he pointed to Jess, "She was doing a handstand!"
Jess screamed with laughter. "That was so much fun. We'd wait until Dad crested the steepest hill. Ready? Ready? Now!"
I've mentioned before that we grew up a black powder family but muzzle loader muskets and blowing things up has always been strictly the domain of Papa Toa. He's managed to keep us clear of gunpowder and cigarette lighters but has brought us up to know in our DNA that a little bit of danger is one hell of a lot of fun. As the youngest, Jess understood that better than anyone. She's always the first to hold her nose and go flying off the rope swing into the river or off the decks of the whalechaser and into the sea, four wheel driving out the back of Conto's, running along the skylight roof, giggling as a two year old, with Annie trying to coax her down (now that was scary).
After a funny and joyous exchanging of vows, we danced and then sojourned to the balcony to look over the Indian Ocean. Around the cape the ocean turns a bright ultra marine blue, nothing like the gnarly gun barrel grey of the Southern Ocean where I hail from.
I fingered the xylophones, looked out to sea and picked a half hearted fight with the groom's father about West Australian real estate agents. Someone gave me a tiny piece of paper that looked nondescript but when placed under my tongue made everything really bright and sparkly.
Everyone was just fine and beautiful ...
Azza, fire poi toy boy said, "I've got ten litres of kerosene in the car. Let's go crazy, sister!"
That is my daughter Pearlie below, fire poi queen.
For Too Much Fun Click Play
And then a little sleep ...
Azza again, the next morning, after sitting around with the gathering breakfasting, champagne swilling folk, said, "Now for the fourteen person challenge," which was his lingo for how many people he wanted to fit into his beach-going car. We managed eleven and trundled down for a swim, bumping over the gravel corrugations until he got illegal on the tarmac, to the pool at Ingenup.
The sun was brutal. We plunged into waves off a deep, sucky beach and I tried to surf waves that pounded my head into the sand, dumper after dumper. Sometimes I thought I was going to die. My undies filled with sand and then I couldn't find them at all. Bloody hell. Give me the long, sloping sands of the south anytime. Their sand isn't even white, it's yellow. And it's too coarse to squeak. And it really hurts when your head hits it.
It was time to get out of the chaos and crawl into a pool of warm, shallow water and chat to French Nat. She regaled me with some choice life experiences in her gorgeous drawling accent, whilst skulling champagne, her filthy bridesmaid's dress soaking in the briny.
A crow sat on the sculptural stones and watched us bodies wallow. Azza's wife lolled, her swollen baby belly and darkened nipples objects of tactile fascination for my two year old niece. The drug fiend, the loose one we watched carefully in the surf, lay in the sand like a shipwrecked pirate, shell grit all over his face and falling into his eyes. New lovers - the rangy, laughing Maori and her quiet Australian fell over and over in the lacy reaches of the waves. I could feel the skin burning on my back, deliciously.
We climbed back up the long, long track. One Toa sister had forgotten her thongs and the soles of her feet burned in the hot sand. We were bushed by the time we got to the car park. On our return to the wedding house, dried out, hot and crusty with salt, it was just so much joy to discover the spa bath full of fresh water stained with tea tree, and women covered in damp rose petals and my sister bride Jess, with her capfuls of tequila ...