Normally I berate myself for passing up any chance to get in the water, especially in the winter when opportunities arrive so infrequently. But in three days, I’ve let two chances slip by – and I think I’m OK with it. This time.

Since Friday brought relative warmth and sunshine, I expected the same for Saturday (aka “Family Day”) and planned an afternoon at Camel Rock for everyone. Gear, people and dogs loaded, we left Manila, which was, at the time, indeed blue skied and near balmy. Arcata’s weather also gave reason for cheer. After spending $30 at Wildberries – so much for cheap eats at our picnic – we headed north. Into fog and cold.

The sun no longer existed; the lack of warmth raised goosebumps upon exiting the car. The only possible good that could have come of this would have been crowd control – the difference between sun or not often directly corresponds to the number of surfers in the water. If the usual thinning had occurred, maybe Bobby and I would’ve gone out. We were tempted, especially because Chelsea, who’s normally the complainer, was fine with hanging out on the beach. Nick was, too – but Kaylee begged to be allowed to stay in the cozier confines of the car if we were to surf.

I weighed three factors: wave quality, parenting conscience, crowd factor, in that order. If the waves had been great, I probably would’ve told the kids to run around on the beach for an hour. The waves definitely weren’t bad – if only five or six people had been in the water, I could have picked off some decent rides for sure. But despite the clean, glassy lines, they sectioned quickly, offering the briefest mental rides as I pondered whether or not to go. If only Bobby and I had trekked up there, we probably would have surfed for the sake of getting wet, paddling around. But the fact that three-to-five people dropped in on every wave, plus reports of “Cold!” and “Enh” from surfers arriving topside, make the idea of forcing the children to hang out in the cold feel wrong. So we split.

(On the way home, I had the grand idea to ride my bike home from the office, where it’s been long neglected. I even had my bike gear with me. He left me at Jacoby’s, I changed into my fancy pants, shoes and jacket, plopped my helmet on, and made it as far as the parking lot before discovering I had a flat tire. Thinking I could pump it up at the gas station, I walked – my metal bottomed shoes clinking on the sidewalk – a block over, where, not being familiar with the high-falutin’ valve on my tire, I accidentally let all the remaining air out instead. What I should have done is taken my sad self and poor bike up to the Outdoor Store and asked for help, but I’ve played the helpless female too many times in my life. I hate not knowing how to do things! So I went back to the office and attempted to Google my way to a solution. If only I’d asked the guys at Revolution to show me how to use the spiffy tools they’d attached to my bike! No luck. I was one of those dorky people covered in gear and totally clueless. Bobby fetched the bike and me. I will take care of this situation very soon.)

The other session-that-didn’t-happen took place last night. Oh, I can’t wait to get a new camera! My hands ached to freeze-frame the evening’s beauty. The sun shone out bright below a dark cloud, casting the world in brilliant brights, deep shadows and intense blues. A glance eastward turned into marveling at the white moon, already dominating the sky despite the daylight.

The surf looked bumpy, but otherwise classic fun. Overhead and then some. Hollow. Crowded, but Jetty crowd is different than Camel crowd. Scarier, sure, but also more regimented. I still might not get as many waves, but I’m far less likely to be dropped in on, on the ones I do get.Why didn’t I go? I’d brought Nick with me, determined to pull him away from watching surf videos and reading surf magazines. “Come check out the actual real-life ocean,” I’d said. He agreed without hesitation – and the simple truth is, despite my jones to surf, despite the decent offering, I was having way too much fun hanging out with my kid at that moment to give it up. We walked out on the jetty and checked out the surfers, everyone of whom appeared to be about 10 times better than me. We admired the waves and the golden lining on the clouds as the sun set. We cheered when the unexpected bonus of someone torching a Christmas tree on the waveslope happened. We came home happy.

Today, though, I really should need want to get in the water.