“Big.” “Steep.” “Late.” “Fun.” These words have only the narrowest concrete meanings in relation to surfing.

When I first started surfing, “big” was anything over waist high. When I was surfing almost every day, “big” meant over head-and-a-half. “Steep” for a Camel Rock right differs greatly from “steep” on a Jetty right. What I consider a “late” takeoff is far removed from those guys who always sit deep, who take off so late that I want to videotape them, then watch the tape frame-by-frame because I don’t understand how taking off like that is physically possible.

And “fun”? That always has far more to do with the person surfing than the actual conditions. What’s that person’s comfort zone? What’s his general outlook on life? How long has it been since she surfed? How picky is he or she? Those factors determine the “fun” report far more than wind, tide and swell.

Physical conditions are ever-changing. Mental conditions do, too. When I’m not surfing much, my perspective shifts again.

So was yesterday’s session at Camel “big”? Not even close; an occasional head-high set bounced off the rock, the pinnacle of excitement. I took off on a wave that I thought might be a bit steep, then remembered, “I can make this.” I used to love making “late” drops – not an adreneline junkie by nature, I find my thrill there, not in size, which becomes simply scary at a certain point (right now, about 8 feet; maybe by fall, about 10).

“Fun”? Absolutely. First thing in the morning, surrounded by other surfers I know and like, plenty of waves, no pressure, just a fine start to the day? Absolutely fun.