The holidays began with the usual arthritic family in tow – you know, Mr and Mrs Pain and Suffering. Because they live together, they ignore each other, and I’m pleased to report they’re muted – no whinging and whining in this camp.

Then there’s the stiffness group, but they’re in the corner where no one listens to them. I’ve found life is so much better when they’re treated as merely a background annoyance. It’s best to just get on with life and let any stiffness resolve itself once the movement gets up and running, kind of like a classic rock track.

At the beginning of summer, because I love the season so much, I kicked the reinforcing rods that mark the corner of the garden and ease the hose around without catching sharp corners. I broke three toes. No one knew and because I could still get the offending foot into work boots, we carried on. Kicked them a few more times during the break, just to show how easy it was to do, but saltwater therapy worked a treat.

This is the way it goes: You get up at 0408hrs each morning and get out the door to somewhere by the shore – doesn’t matter, just anywhere – and wade out. You’ll need traditional aids like a tripod as a steady. This is because mud is stickier in summer, and the tripod doubles as a walking stick when the tidal current starts to pull (or river current if you want a pleasant variation on the same therapy). Of course, a camera to go on said tripod has to be balanced in the other hand.

Wading out in bare feet has its challenges. By walking over shellfish beds, you’ll get the obligatory cuts and this toe and foot massage isn’t really too much fun. It does keep you awake however until the sun rears its face over the horizon, making all the effort and pain so worthwhile.

Even when not wading through it, saltwater therapy is a joy when you can sit on the jetty above the tide, watching the sun set behind the hills. In the silence of nature you can hear fish splashing on re-entry, spoonbills calling or herons croaking. If you’re truly at peace with this silence, you can even hear the deepest bass of the bitterns’ boom across the saltmarsh.

This is therapy worthy of the daily battle. It doesn’t matter which end of the day you take the treatment – true bliss occurs at these points. Where it happens doesn’t matter either. On a jetty, on a remote boat-ramp or even under a flax bush or tree, allowing yourself to become one with the silence of nature. Somehow it works.

Of course, to be effective, saltwater therapy needs to be repeated and ongoing – and that’s just fine with me.  

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