Facing West on a Maximum North

“Grizzley” Adam “Wipeout’s” older son, Calvin “Boomer” James, with “The Burn,” aka “the Burner” model custom board.

As always, I would like to cover a couple of topics. I will get back to the board.

We’re a few days past the summer solstice. The sun is rising and setting on horizons almost shockingly north of where the sun was six months ago. I have observed this time lapse movement for so long it seems as if I have always oriented my life according to where the sun sets. West. That is where the ocean is; that is where the waves are. West.

West is the direction the teenage me looked, out on the lawn, imagining magical waves beyond the rounded, north to south rows of drought and fire burned hills, past the smog drifting down from the Orange County/L.A. vortex. At maximum north, the sun set over San Onofre, maximum south, Oceanside. Perhaps I more imagined than saw the bounce-back effect a brilliant sunset on the water had on the high clouds. No, it was real, reflection on a horizonal plane. Horizontal.

For the last forty-plus years, living somewhere around fifty/sixty feet above sea level on gravel and rounded rocks and clay left behind in an ancient fjord by one of any number of ice ages, my view to the west is of an almost mountain-high ridge. If I said it looks like an almost perfect thousand-foot-high peak, probably a better right than a left, well… forgive me. It is yet another wave in the north/south coastal range. Ranges, the Olympics being the highest and broadest.

In the winter, the sun sets to my left, almost to the gap that reveals two other higher, craggier ridges. Today it will hit just to my right of the highest point.

OOOPS. TECHNICAL SCREWUP! I just lost a whole lot of good writing. I tried to save it. Didn’t work. LATER.

Meanwhile, since I lost this part, let me explain the board. JOEL, almost app-millionaire, now a real estate mogul in the making, wanted a surfboard to burn as a sacrifice to any surf gods (not arguing for or against the existence of said small g gods here), with a request for something better than the flatter-than-the-usual-flatness around these parts. Adam has a lot of boards. BUT, partially considering how environmentally unfriendly burning something as toxically chemical as a foam-and-glass board, Adam,, on INTERNATIONAL SURFING DAY (all in, he claims, four hours), crafted the board (below) out of a cedar slab, glued on the fins and… AND, YEAH, it’s way too cool a board to be burning up to appease some minor leaguers (when I appeal/pray/beg/hope for rideable waves and uncrowded glassy conditions and a good parking place, in that order, I’m appealing to the big G crew- yeah, a bit bold), SOOOO, now Joel wants to ride the BURNER. So, now Adam, after discussing what to coat/cover the raw wood with, wants to change the name of the board to the simpler “BURN,” as in ‘Joel might just burn people on the board.’

Emmett (no nickname yet, at least not one I’m aware of) James

SECOND MNEANWHILE- Adam has yet to get Emmett and Calvin addicted to surfing. They’re all out on the coast this weekend, so, of course, Adam is working on it.

Either You Froth…

 …or you don’t.  This may be a distinguishing feature of all real surfers.  Anyone can enjoy the basic beauty of a perfectly formed, peeling wave.  Basic. Beauty. Energy made visible, even violent; distant wind, steady or sudden; moving, pushing, transferring its power to the water; disorganized bundles hitting other forces, tides, waves from other winds; traveling, deepening, overcoming smaller swells…

 …and when they approach land, fingers and hands, points and beaches, land that has been formed by other forces, shaped by constant batterings; these lines that are the pulse, the heartbeat of the oceans, one-every-five-seconds become one-every-fifteen, four per minute…

 …and then…

wavesonewavetwo

 You can probably clearly remember picking waves out of a stormy and blown-out ocean, telling your friends, or just yourself, what you’d do on that wave (presuming you could even get out).  “That one!  That one! See?”

There have been moments where seeing waves hit some indicator, outside or up the beach; paddling over the shoulder, twenty yards out from the peak, where the witnessing of the beauty of the lighting and the varied-if-not-perfect symmetry of a breaking wave is enough…

 …almost.

 

There are moments where watching a friend drop from the other side of a peak, drop-and-drive, disappear for a tick, or three, under the break, and emerge… or even not, and you’re crashing through a lip, looking toward the next wave, hoping you can paddle fast enough to line up on a hoped-for second or third wave in the set; some times that view, sharing the joy, is enough… almost.

You might just be screaming as loud as the person in the tube. 

That’s part of the joy.  You know that joy.  I’ve never met a real surfer, no matter how cool, who won’t break into a near giggle-fit at the sight of a wave… this wave, that wave, ‘that one! That one! See!”

 Hey, it’s INTERNATIONAL SURFING DAY! Feel free to FROTH OUT!