Winter Swell

By Alexander Gilbert

 

Waves are out there following the path of least resistance. As someone who finds himself following irritation, a path of least resistance is choice, and I would say inviting. I’ll take up a surfboard, and ride that out as much as I can; one wave at a time. Not only surf the ocean blue but become it. Humanis Surfacis: a coastal species. A genus with thick coats of neoprene on the Oregon Coast.

Walking down the beach I passed a seagull at about four feet. The gull didn’t even flinch with my wetsuit on from head to toe, and a board under my arm. The bird acknowledged my Humanis Surfacis, I’m sure of it, and didn’t fly away. What other proof do you need?

What does fly away from the beach are the crowds during the off season. Snow beckons people away the other direction. We are very migratory. But stay the winter and you have all these waves not being surfed; such wasteful people in this country.

The sun shone on December 21st at Cape Kiwanda as if it was celebrating the first day of spring. While the valley was draped in the dreariness of a heavy fog. Sunshine, 50 degree plus air temperature, and a wetsuit is practically the tropics on the coast. The waves were churning with a winter spirit, and had the break looking ornery, like it would spit me right out on the sand if I paddled out. And that pretty much happened.

Being the only person doing something always makes me suspicious. I was the only surfer. This is so great I would repeat in my mind, though why am I the only one going in the water? What am I missing? Nothing! What the hell are you missing. Yes, you—reader.

The Common Murre readily dives under each breaking wave when wading on the ocean surface. My attempts on my board are clumsy and less effective but it’s still known as duck diving. Paddling out has it’s own skill set as does catching a wave. Surging white water pushing and pulling you back. Water full of life with a kelp strand slapping your leg as another wave hurdles by.

Surfers are master word crafters. If one makes it through the break you’ll experience rubber arms, and know that the two words fit the crime. In the pleasant zone right before the waves’ crest, tranquilize on the water, look out at the immense ocean, and watch promising swells to joyride make their way to shore. Maybe a couple distant vessels but a whole lot of empty vastness on the surface. Most of the activity cloaked in fathoms of water—out of sight. Shimmy the other direction, towards the coast line—a protrusion of history is the the cape, keeping time with sediment layers and erosion. Behind that is the largest sand castle seen around, constructed by nature, called a dune.

What about catching a wave! Waves are all over the freaking place—visible light waves, radio, microwaves and so on. Take a rest surfing the internet on wifi waves. Feel the heave of an ocean swell charge you ahead as you paddle with it. The swell steepens a moving slope to descend. You drop in from the peak—banzai! Life, water, motion, mirth.

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