It’s hard to stay mad at people discovering the joy of surfing

OK, so I admit to being a bit ticked at the traffic, the tourists, the sweepers, the anonymous throngs, the real estate signs cluttering the public sidewalks. It’s my curmudgeonly version of “You kids stay off my lawn.” I get nostalgic for the old days of meeting RC, GT and Mark at the point and going for a surf alone. And then I wake up to a day like today — not a cloud in the bright blue sky, finches singing at my window and a moderate south swell. It doesn’t take long for all my senses to come alive, blow off everything including this column’s deadline, throw on a salt-encrusted pair of trunks, grab a longboard and head out.
Outside my window is a wonderful world of summer colors — I think God loves blue the most — and the voices of children, sliding into their first of a million waves. Hearing them scream on a wave that doesn’t even look like a ripple, watching them smile as they plow their way into the shore break, proud moms and dads clicking shutters for all the folks in Omaha.
Not much room out there, but I can squeeze in somewhere. In the water there are few waves and packs of campers raving about how good the surf was an hour ago. I know better, but don’t want to interrupt all the happy chatter. Still, I must paddle on, to the next peak, to see if there’s a spot where I can slide in.
My timing is good and I paddle into position just in time for a 3-foot set to crease the kelp beds. With most everyone caught inside, I am able to stroke out and meet the mighty right comber. Spin around, no paddle, in and moving past wide-eyed kids and their parents, safe on soft boards, wondering where that wave came from. Then, it’s paddle back out and wait for a very long time as the Southern Hemi sputters to provide surf on our coast.
I’m good for two more waves, before paddling in to bask on the hot rocks of shore and watch the color of the day fade to black. But there are hours left and I still want more. My mind drifts to the breaks further north and south where the swell will find purpose on shallow reefs and cobblestone points. It’s overhead there for sure, serious surfers cracking the lip and boosting big airs. Serious kids with sponsorship logos on their boards and full rides from the big surf-related companies.
The same band of energy that barely penetrates this spot will pulse hard in those places. Let’s see, if I leave right now, I could be there in 45 minutes.
Four kids, two of whom are pushed by parents into the wave, attack a small wave. Hoots and laughter are followed by high fives as the beaming kids return to the lineup to repeat what will become an endless cycle for them. Not much of a wave, really, but somehow it’s enough. The guys on those points and reefs pushing and shoving their wave through perfection, hoping their latest move will become a magazine spread or a blip on YouTube would never know it, but they’re missing out. The real joy of surfing is happening here, beyond all the hype and glory and the ego infestation of electronica. It has nothing to do with anything but how it feels to you, and as we all know, nothing feels better than riding a wave.

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