#29. Thursday, Aug. 14. First solo surf in years. Surfing the Jetty or Camel offers a false sense of security due to the nearby promontory. Surfing off an open beach, however, the sense of vulnerability flares up like a siren. I try to ignore it, but after 25 minutes of outside waves too mushy to get into to and shorebreak too pitching to cope with, I called it “exercise” instead of “surfing” and clambered out.

#30. Monday, Aug. 18. Moonstone. The sandbars are good this year. Even teensy swell stays surprisingly surfable. Bobby, Kaylee, Nick and I all caught plenty of waves. I wish I had K’s grace, but I remain old and slow in the space between paddling and popping up. 

Later K told me, “Remember when you were howling at your friend in the parking lot? There was a guy changing who thought you were doing that at him!” Apparently when I’d greeted a fellow surfer by hooting and hollering across the length of cars, another someone was in the process of stripping out of his wetsuit and misinterpreted the commotion as directed at that fact. Kaylee said he “had a weird look on his face.” I’m sure.

#31. (Thirty-one? And it’s August? Jeez, this is so pathetic.) Tuesday, Aug. 19. Jetty. Our truck has a ripped tire, damn it, so we caught a ride out with a friend. I have never seen so many people in the water on two-foot waves, at least, not outside of Moonstone. I felt like, “Really? Seriously? Who the hell are all these people?” At least 15 people competed for surf that was a notch above lake-like. Normally that many people would indicate the place was going off. We shook our heads and joined the fray.

Within moments, at the end of the jetty, a whale breached. The moment was over in less time than it took to think, “Oh wow, what’s that, a whale, wow!” but the pleasure of witnessing such a phenomenon remained long after. Porpoises arched out of the ocean, while pelicans soared and dove all around us. Steel blue clouds stretched across a lemon turquoise sky. That color – is it a harbinger of storm? Do the cumulus clouds suck away all the blue as the sun sinks toward the sea? The vista glowed around us.

No shortage of waves, especially as the crowd decreased rapidly. Finally that thing happened that only happens when you practice something with regularity: my body moved instinctively, my brain went from consciously giving instruction (“now paddle, now press up, now stand, now swing the arm around and try to stay on the face) to experiencing pure joy. I believe transcendence would be a good word here. Where catching other waves had been fun, the steps of labor were evident; on this one, I was suddenly just there, in the right place, with the proper stance, being transported by the wave’s energy with little regard for gravity or anything else at all. 

A waist-high wave and I was probably grinning like I’d emerged from a stand-up barrel.

Even the fact that the keys ended up locked in the truck, causing a 40-minute run for the spare, didn’t detract from the evening’s beauty. I hung out with the kids on the jetty, squealing every time the whale spouted, admiring the peerless grace of the pelicans in flight – a grace not so evident when the gawky birds are just standing around – and reassuring the hungry offspring that we would, in fact, be rescued.

I even had the foresight to order a pizza through foghorn blasts – thank you, Big Pete’s, for delivering to Manila! It arrived at the house within moments after we did, a warm and tasty end to our evening’s adventure.

Today’s question is, can I return to bed and then get up in time to try out the 8 at 11 swell now rolling through?