Sasquatch on the Tide Flats

NOTES: The word Patagonia refers to a land of giants.

-Sasquatch sightings in the wild Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington are a bit higher in the HamaHama region along Hood Canal.                                                                -The extended family of Adam “Wipeout” James has been logging, farming, and maintaining shellfish beds for generations.                                                                      -Whether surfing, working the tide flats, or representing HamaHama Seafoods all around the country, Adam’s life is more aligned with the cycle and pattern of tides than that of night and day.

THIS is fiction, as in, ‘could be true;’ and, really, it should be titled:

WHY I’LL NEVER GET THAT PROMISED PATAGONIA FLEECE PULLOVER

MORE NOTES/EXPOSITION: Adam is, quite possibly, the most gregarious person I’ve ever met. Eternally outgoing, willing to talk to just about anyone; I sort of wrote his behavior off as trying to fit in with the surf crowd, something in keeping with my impression that he believes there is some sort of unofficial Surf Community.                                             -Yeah, maybe; or maybe it’s the same more salt-water-connected than blood-related tribe I’ve been around for the last 52 years (or so).                                                                        -Adam remembers other surfer’s names, gets some background on others in the water and on the beach; and, I don’t know, it’s kind of catchy. Or I’m kind of competitive. Knowing Adam has made me, maybe, a bit friendlier. More on the beach than in the water.                                                                                                                                             -Adam has established some sort of relationship with Patagonia. They wanted, possibly, to make some inroads into the work clothing market, take some market share from Carhartt.                                                                                                                                             -SO, Adam scored some clothing, got some photos taken, set up mutual surf friend (and contractor in the boat building/repair world), Clint, with a modeling opportunity.      -AND, maybe because I wear my HamaHama hoodie out in the world, representing, Adam scored a xxxl Patagonia pullover for me. “Double xl is big enough,” I told him on the phone, both of us trying to figure out when and where to go surfing based on the latest forecasts, buoy readings, tide reports, and anecdotal/historic bullshit.

“I was just trying it on,” Adam told me, after the INCIDENT; “It fit over the rest of my gear.” “Because it’s a triple xl, Adam.” “Yeah; right.” So, finally, here’s my piece on Adam’s story:

Since it was a warmer night than expected, Adam left his (my) Patagonia pullover, a jug of water, and a burrito left over from dinner in a pile, just where the narrow path leading down from his house hit the beach. This was his own small section of tideflats. A moon, a few days past full, was rising above the trees and scattered lights on the Kitsap Peninsula, a mile or so across the ancient (ice age old) fjord. English explorers named this the Hood Canal, another finger (and not a canal) reaching from the various bodies that make up Puget Sound.

His characteristic miner’s style headset light on his wool cap, flannel shirt, rubber boots and protective gloves, and a five gallon bucket in each hand, Adam set out across the rocks and gravel.

He had missed the ebb tide, and, forty-five minutes into the flow, was thinking about surfing, about waves; swell size and angles and periods, and winds. With just a hint of an east wind spreading texture on the always-moving water; the decision was, as always, whether, in the morning, he should go down Surf Route 101 and out to the coast or up the same highway to the Strait. Deciding which oysters to pick was, after years of low tides, second nature.

The moon was only slightly higher when, his buckets full; he looked south, well beyond his headlamp’s ability to see clearly. It was…no.

What Adam thought could be (not unheard of) a bear, smashing shells with a rock; stood up, pouring an oyster into its mouth. Standing, it was… it was very tall. And it looked at him.

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“It?” I asked, just the other day, on the Strait.   After four hours or so in the water, I was out and fully dressed. Adam, who arrived later than I had, having checked out several other possible locations, was sliding on a now-slightly-used canvas Patagonia jacket (probably a size large). “Have you seen, like, elk, deer, bears… out on the tideflats?” His gesture said, “Yes, all of those.” “Poachers?”

He laughed. “Yeah. That’s what I was thinking… a couple of years ago…” Adam cut himself off to say something to a group that had just pulled into the parking area; two softtops and two other boards on the roof, three guys and a woman climbing out.

“You have any more coffee?” he asked me. We had each had some after we both got out of the water the first time, before we noticed the rights seemed to be working (sporadically- I drifted back to the lefts where Big Dave was still surfing).

“Yeah; just don’t drink the last of it. Why don’t you bring a thermos?”

Half a cup in his (I’m guessing) hip canning jar mug, Adam walked over to his next (potential) friends as I tied-down my board, then put on the fleece-lined, flannel, old man coat I’d purchased for eight bucks at the Port Angeles Goodwill, shortly before I discovered I could get a new version at Costco for under twenty.

“Surgical strike, then. Great.” This is what Adam was saying to one of the four-person-group readying to attack the mostly-mediocre (I’m legally bound to never say ‘great,’ though, on this day, they weren’t) as he backed away from them and toward me, turning to say, “Surgical strike.”

I, no doubt, shrugged. “Poacher?”

“Oh, yeah; that’s where I might have screwed up. I couldn’t tell… he was kind of out of range. He was, um, thick enough, that I couldn’t really tell how tall he was. I think I said something like, ‘Hey, Buddy… Dude; you know that these tideflats are…’ I almost said, ‘mine.’ Or, maybe I did.”

I poured out the last of the coffee into my Seahawks mug. A third of a cup and almost luke-warm. “Now, Adam, I told you I wasn’t going to tell you, again, that the best wave I saw all day is the one you were too far over to make… so pretty.”

“No, the best wave was the one I took off in front of you on.”

“Yeah, maybe it was.” With Big Dave and I kind of, possibly, maybe, catching a lot of the available waves, Adam and others had moved up the reef. Not really working. Adam moved back over. On one of the larger waves, Adam took off in front of me. I surfed up next to and under him, and actually said (not yelled, but in the heat of the moment), “I hope you don’t think I care more about this board than this wave.” We both made the wave, and Adam said, “You should have gone past me.” “You should have dropped down.” “Yeah, next time. Fun, huh?”

“Yeah. Fun.”

At some point, and it was probably when he heard the growling, deep, low, but intensifying; Adam realized this wasn’t a poacher out on his tide flats. And it wasn’t a ‘Buddy’ or a ‘Dude.’

Turning toward the beach, walking slowly, at first; his lamp turned off, looking up at the yard light at his house; Adam didn’t break into an all-out run until he approached the high tide line. Still, he never thought of dropping the buckets, even when audible (and getting closer, quickly) heavy breathing, huge feet sliding and splashing across the shallows, got closer.

Closer. Adam swears, now, he could feel the creature’s breath, smell something that, when he considered it, smelled somewhere between burnt driftwood and seaweed. Not that he was considering subtleties of smell as he ran. Near the high tide mark, Adam dropped both buckets; one spilling over, the other staying upright.

It wasn’t a growl, almost a laugh as the Creature passed him. Passed him. Adam may have shrieked. May have; but then he froze. A bucket swinging from one hand, the creature (let’s call it a Patagon’, a giant) stopped at the path, turned, sniffed, looked at Adam. Maybe he studied him for a moment: Brown hair, big mustache, beard halfway-to-full. He looked at the brown hair on his own arm for another moment as he raised Adam’s leftover burrito, ate it in one bite, drank half of Adam’s remaining water (the rest pouring down his hairy chest), and, when Adam turned his headlamp back on, the Patagon’ blinked.

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“Then, his head kind of turning this way and that, he sort of smiled. Big canines. Big. I did kind of a (demonstrates) fist bump kind of thing, then, maybe, like a peace sign. I, um, (demonstrates again) kind of hit my chest, said, “I’m Adam.”

“Of course you did.”

The Sasquatch licked his huge fingers, grunted something; four syllables. Adam answered with a, “You’re welcome.” The Patagon’ looked at Adam’s (could have been mine) fleecy pullover, then back at Adam. “It won’t fit you,” Adam said. “But, maybe… special order… I know people.”

Too late. The coat tucked/stuffed under one arm, the bucket of oysters hitting a few branches, Adam’s new friend glided (Sasquatch(es) supposedly glide) along the shore-hugging scrub brush, bounded up an unseen path farther south as a cloud covered the moon.

“Low tide’s about forty-five minutes later tomorrow night,” Adam said into the darkness, walking back to retrieve the other bucket of oysters, thinking (he claims) about how much I would have loved that sweatshirt.

“Hey, nice session,” I said, reaching out to exchange a fistbump. ”And… nice story.”

“Yeah. Um… so, you, uh, didn’t wear the HamaHama sweatshirt today?”

“No, but…I could explain that, but…” No, I couldn’t beat Adam’s story. It would take aliens, space aliens. “Next time. And, um, next time, you drop down and I’ll go past you.”

BONUS STEPHEN DAVIS, with explainer. Stephen, recovering from his recent Tuck-and-rollover accident on the Big Island, sent a photo of his most recent painting. Thanks, Stephen, paint some more. NOW! PAINT!

 

 

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Waiting…and Waiting…and…

..image-125…checking the forecast. Stubbornly believing, if I check the buoys (not just those near-shore, but those in the open ocean, west and north- the ones that matter) often enough; winds and angles and period; if I check out multiple forecasts; if I overlay an optimal tide and wind situation at several different locations; maybe I’ll be able to predict the exact moment when the swirl becomes the proper energy, properly focused.

And, of course, I hope the next window is slightly before the forecasts we all look at call for it to open.  Ready to readjust my schedule to fit my idea of when and where and how far away, imagining peeling glass, properly chilled and waiting…

No, it’s me who is waiting. I’m guessing you are, too.

Meanwhile, there’s work, and, incidentally, I have quite a few drawings waiting to go to The Printery to be reduced in size so I can post them.  Something else I’m anticipating.

Under the Brow

Somewhere between waking up a little later than I had planned, trying to get up the energy and necessary excitement level to drive to a job I have to (HAVE TO) get completed before Monday, that project twenty miles out on a (relatively) wilderness peninsula; somewhat after I stepped in cat barf (easily detected with bare feet), had to deal with the same cat’s (Snickerdoodle’s) latest incredibly, unbearably stinky crap (each installment demanding instant removal from the litter box and the house), made a pot of coffee for today’s thermos full, microwaved a cup of yesterday’s leftover, turned on the light in the art/breakfast nook, found the magazine and the photo I would use as reference, then…

…oh, yeah, then I decided, after getting fresh boxers and socks for today from the laundry room, that I could actually use the Seahawks shirt I had worn, yesterday, for Blue Friday, but hadn’t worn to paint in; fresh enough; so I set the magazine and (I think) my drawing/computer eyeglasses on top of the stuff on top of the heater near the door I went out to retrieve my shirt. This particular pair of cheaters is too strong for watching TV (or for walking around), but perfect for making a lot of lines make sense. Some sense.

I looked. Couldn’t find them. Got a flashlight, dug around under the piano and the heater, retraced my steps. Gave up. The clock is ticking. Got to get to work.

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This is drawn with my painting (trim-cutting mostly) glasses, a few specks on the lenses. It’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation.

MEANWHILE, I got some new earplugs. I’ve been using these orange-ish waxy plugs purchased at Walmart, but, if I wipe out enough times, I always seem to lose one. Then I rip the other one in half. Then, as happened this week, I might lose one of those. If I don’t wear earplugs I will get one ear or the other plugged up. It’s not always immediate, but this last time I lost hearing in my right ear before I made it home. This deafness is quite irritating to people (Trish mostly) who think I should hear what they’re saying.

It’s also quite irritating to me, constantly trying to clear the ear, dealing with that drop of the ocean caught between the bone growth (diagnosed when I was 20 year old) that has been narrowing my ear canals, and my ear drum. Slosh, slosh, clearness, hey… replugged. Silence. “What?” I’m constantly snapping my fingers next to my ear, checking.

AFTER googling ‘surfers’ ear’, it seems like the best solution is surgery. Drilling or chisling. NOOOOOOooo! WELL, we ordered and received some new plugs, seemingly identical (except for the strap connecting the two) to the ones endorsed by Tom Carroll, but cheaper from Ebay, possibly because of the lack of his endorsement. I’ve checked them out, can’t wait to use them.

MY HOPE is I don’t find my drawing glasses the same way I found Snicky’s barf. Cruncccccccchhh.

ADDITIONALLY, because it seems to be a deal, with attacks from the tweeter-in-chief; it seems like everyone should take a note from the Seattle area high school football team that took a knee during the national anthem. This shows no disrespect, and, in fact, probably shows more respect for what our country stands for (I won’t add ‘allegedly’, ‘historically,’ or ‘supposedly’- for the sake of not arguing), while noting that social inequality is real. Really.

New Age Dawn Patrol with Malmsted Dreever

These are the first pages of a… I don’t want to say comic book, not quite a graphic novel. Okay, my graphic short story of an older guy going to… hey, it needs to tell itself; and, no, I wanted the Malmsted character to be someone other than me.

Image (212)Image (213)Image (214)…and there’s more. Coming. Soon. Will Malmsted make it back to his room before… will his desire to surf overcome his complete lack of actual experience in the actual ocean? Will he rule the lineup? Why did I draw him with a mustache AND a soul patch?

 

 

If I lost you in the lines…

…in the glare, in the crowd; I know I’ll see you later.

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It’s high season for painting houses, and quite a short season it is here in the great northwest. It might be considered fortunate that it’s off-season for surfing, even on the coast. I would love more time for writing and drawing and, yeah, I’d like to see something a bit more promising in the surf forecasts.

So, this one time… this one time I moved over from the rights as the tide flattened them out. About the time I got to my preferred lineup for the lefts a set approached. Big Dave was the only one farther out than I was. “Oh,” I said, “I’d love to take that first one.” “Well,” Dave said, “It’s your birthday.”

It wasn’t. But, recently, it was; and there was a bit of a bump, and… okay, it wasn’t classic; there were roll-throughs and closeouts and a sideshore wind, and, along with the many waves I caught during my five hours in the water, there were several pretty nasty wipeouts, cuts on both hands, a wound on my calf, sore muscles, and one ear plugged up for several days.

And now it’s back to sweating, painting some crappy apartments in Bremerton.  But, I am taking a little time to finish a drawing, do some (this and other) writing, study the forecast. My thinking is: I’m not getting any younger.

UPDATE: Archie Endo has returned, at least temporarily, from Thailand. The stroke he suffered there has left him physically weaker, and he thinks it’ll be a while before he can get back to his soulful and stylish longboard surfing.   Stephen Davis and Mike “Squintz” Cumiskey helped him get settled back into his house.

Hydrosexual Stephen Davis, who just left for the Big Island this morning, took Archie to the pool in Sequim, and said, when Archie got in the water, “He just lit up. You could see the energy coming back.”  Archie confirmed this. Hopefully, with some proper therapy, we can see our friend parallel-stancing his way across some northwest waves.

Spirit Guides and a surf session made…

…special.

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I called my brother-in-law, Jerome, on Wednesday when I couldn’t make the memorial. Couldn’t. That’s a loaded word; the ceremony was in Illinois and I’m… I’m here. Part of the couldn’t has to be that I haven’t faced my sister Melissa’s passing. Passing. Couldn’t. Haven’t; not sure I will; face it. Eventually, I’m just not sure when. Our (Trisha’s and my) daughter, Drucilla, made the train trip down state from Chicago several times, as the prognosis worsened and my sister weakened.

Still, it all seemed too sudden. Way too soon. There hours before Melissa passed, Dru would return on Friday, representing Trish and me, supporting her uncle and her cousins Fergus and Emma.

Oh, I know it’s real, real like our (his eight children) father’s passing last December. I know they’re both gone, not sure where they’ve gone to. Once a person realizes (or accepts or believes) we each have a soul, something separate from the body, even from the “I think, therefore I am” consciousness, something more than just BEing; one can’t help but imagine that this very more-ness is, has to be, somehow, transcendent.

There was a full moon the night my sister passed. Is that relevant?

“You know,” Jerome said, “what your sister would have wanted is for you to go surfing.”

I tried. On Friday, with friends and relatives recounting stories two thousand miles away, I worked, crazy-hard, to finish another job while monitoring the buoys. There was a chance. As is so typical on the Strait, on that long summer evening, it was ‘almost’ something. Just not quite enough. Even so, I almost talked myself into paddling out into one foot chop. Almost.

Allow me to mention the story Jerome told about the hawks. The last painting my sister completed is of three Cooper’s hawks. During the last week, with my sister Mary Jane (Janey to me) helping out, and my sister Suellen en route, three Cooper’s Hawks landed in the trees behind Jerome and Melissa’s house, and stayed there. Every day.

Spirit Guides? I’m willing to believe so.

On Monday I met up with Mike “Squints” Cumiskey, headed out. The surf was just a bit better than ‘almost,’ probably in the ‘barely’ category. Other surfers were in the water. It’s been a long, mostly-flat summer. Bruce, the Mayor of Hobuck, according to Adam “Wipeout” James, checking it when we arrived, eventually talked himself into going out.

Maybe it’s because I persisted, a paddle providing a lot of the power on many of the waves; but, at some point, I was the only one out. It would be something if I said that, for about twenty minutes, the waves improved; not all time, but lined-up, a bit more power, and every time I paddled back out, another set was approaching.

It was something.

Though most of the other surfers had left the beach for the coast or home, I have witnesses: Mike, Bruce, Cole. They agreed it was, for this day, special. Please forgive me if I give my sister a bit of credit.

A NOTE about the drawing. I told Jerome I would write something about the surf experience, and I’d do a drawing; I just wanted it to be good enough. “Oh, so, like your sister, it has to be perfect.” It was almost a question. No, but it has to be good enough.

Sum-mer-time… Skunked on the Strait, 66 degrees at Swamis, 1967…

The surf report and forecast for the Northwest portion of the contiguous U-nited States of A-merica (dashes added to more closely reflect prideful way we pro-nounce stuff) is pretty bleak. You’d have to believe the Pacific Ocean could churn up something more than a two foot swell.

Hey, it’s summertime. Painting season. Hydrosexual Stephen Davis and I, both of us drinking coffee, were each sitting in doorways of our vans, paint gear spread around. I asked him about water temperatures in Baja (last fall) and Hawaii (this last winter). “Oh,” he said, “Baja was right between trunking-it and wetsuit temperature; probably 66 degrees or so.”

“Oh,” I said. Pause, both of us nodding our heads. “You know, back when I was a teenager…” Now Steve was trying to avoid rolling his eyes. “…when the water temperature got up to 58 degrees, somewhere around Easter; if you were still wearing a wetsuit… and bear in mind we only had shortjohn wetsuits… you were a pussy.”

“Uh huh. Pussy.” “Really. And you couldn’t put one on until it got back down to 58, somewhere around December; before Christmas, anyway.” “Uh huh.”

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What I didn’t bother to tell him, but probably drifted off into remembering, was an early summer morning when Phillip Harper, Ray Hicks, possibly Mark Metzger and Billy McLain, and I; no doubt in two cars from Fallbrook, all hit Swamis at about the same time.  I was first down the stairs.

I surfed Swamis enough from 1965 to see the basic reef, sort of fanned, overlapping shelves, hold up while the shoreline would change more dramatically; erosion, refill. Seasonal. The wave conditions went from one high tide peak too close to the bigger rocks; to mid-tide and two distinct peaks; to ultra low tide, one running crazy and almost hollow wave; from the December ’69 swell; through dawn patrol, after school, between classes-at- Palomar and work-in-Oceanside sessions (pre-1971); to the times I lived in Encinitas (’74-’76) and could sneak in a few; to New Years day ventures while working in San Diego because I didn’t have work in the Northwest (1991,’92); everything from Santa Ana mornings to south wind chop, onshore, glassy; overhead to flat; overcrowded to almost empty; with so many memories… they’re all memories now; haven’t surfed there in twenty-five years.

On the particular morning I was remembering while talking with Steve, shadows of the bluff extending into the water, there was a chalk board on the still-empty lifeguard station. “Surf 2-3, water temp- 66.” Whoa! Warming up! We would probably end up surfing what we referred to as Swamis Beachbreak, the quarter mile or so between Swamis proper, and Pipes, pretending there was a better lineup off this rock than off that. “Hey, I WAS on the nose!” “Hey, did you see that rollercoaster?” “Hey!”

I hit the water straight out in front of the stairs, caught a left just as my friends hit the sand. “Hey!”

Not that Stephen would be all that impressed. “Uh huh. Do you have any more coffee?”

self realization

“Uh. Um. Yeah.” I’m certain many of us will look back on the times we went searching for waves on the Strait. Sometimes it can be… “Waves?” “Waves? No, I got skunked.” “Then why are you smiling?”

 

 

Real Surfer Jack O’Neill

“It’s always Summer…”

For those of us who never met Mr. O’Neill, but enjoyed the ever-increasing comfort and warmth as wetsuits continued to get less cumbersome and more comfortable, the image of the man is tied to the photo of the man in the eyepatch. This drawing is also derived from that image.

Another legend passed; and the various waves continue rolling. On.   Thanks for the warmth.

Two New Coloring Book Possibles

I do, actually, have forty covers printed up and ready for the next addition of the Realsurfers Coloring Book, most of those long-promised and, hopefully, eagerly anticipated. Here are two new drawings:

Image (191)Image (190)You may notice the drawings, square (I swear) to the page when I drew them, come out crooked-ey on the computer. This is some issue with my scanner; page up against the stops, and yet… errrr-arrrr.

This was kind of the issue the last time I had some printed. I had edited, and added, using original drawings for the newer pages, reusing the previous pages for the rest. And they all came out crooked.

This has caused me, probably, more grief than necessary. I want to start fresh, from the originals; couldn’t find some of the ones I want. Some were actually colored-in, others were given away, others are god knows where.

MEANWHILE, waves occasionally show up.

IF I could say something about my style; the sort of checkerboard deal might be a throwback to my early art studies at Palomar Community College; pencil drawings on display with a similar patterning, though rendered in a different medium, a somewhat common feature. Starting with the crosshatch pen-and-ink style, I have tried to infuse longer lines and more movement, a hopefully-kinetic, hopefully-flowing energy. Deciding to do the coloring book HAS influenced my drawing. Cleaner, maybe.

STILL, I do sometimes work on non-surf drawings (and, hey, did you notice, I seem to draw more rights than lefts?), and would like to do a collection of non-coloring book pieces, some checkerboard patterns included.

The Right Wave Will…

…wash the grownup out of you.

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I have seen a few grownups who surf. They probably shouldn’t. It just has to be too frustrating dealing with the snakings and the non-looks and the stink-eye, AND, all the while, trying to maintain some sort of ADULT-NESS.

If surfers try to, let’s say, exude a sense of COOLNESS, the sight waves, lined-up, peeling, even if nowhere close to perfect, can seriously damage the facade. Oh, you can maintain the posture, but the glint, the Mona Lisa expression… A great ride, that one section that you shouldn’t have made, but did; that one wave where your board suddenly leapt to light speed, that one cutback you made despite throwing in some extra oomph; Owwwwww! The coolness is gone.

KOOK OUT!

‘GIDDY’ is the word I’ve heard over and over by surfers who would otherwise pass as adults. “I was laughing the whole time.” “It was, it was… I can’t even tell you how…”

Yeah, we know.  Cool it.

All right. I’ve been thinking of the time between surf sessions. I’m doing a little research based on some vague remembrance of a movie about composer Nicholai Andreyevich Rimski-Korsakov. You’re not surfing right now. Are you getting mentally prepared? Does the down time… yeah, thinking about it.