surf sessions #56, #57, #58

Courtesy Arcata Photo Studios
One more time, Arcata Photo Studios
Again, Arcata Photo Studios
Courtesy Arcata Photo Studios
Thanks, Arcata Photo Studios!
Thanks, Arcata Photo Studios!

#56: Moonstone. Spent three-and-a-half hours flying the coast. Perfect white triangles rippled from ocean to beach. Crystal clear sky, no wind. By the time we landed, I was foaming. I rang the kids. “Load up the truck! I’ll be there soon! Everyone surfs!” Took K and Nick and Nick’s friend to Moonstone. So sunny I likely burnt my corneas from squinting into the glittering horizon. So crowded, too – but with a small clean swell like this, room for everyone. I wish K would surf more – she’s so lovely on the waves. Everyone smiling. Some guy had a camera mounted on his nose, which amused me. Epic, brah! Then the fog materialized, no rolling or creeping in, just suddenly the air went from crisp blue and gold to hazy orange. The beach disappeared. The orange drained, leaving the sky and water the same glassy gray, like liquid steel. K caught a wave in. Nick and his buddy followed. I snagged a tiny right, then bellied to shore. Through the mist, I saw a woman dancing. A child stood next to her. She seemed to be swaying with a blanket in her arms. No, not a blanket. Wings? Wings. She had wings extending from shoulders to hands, perhaps 12 inches wide. Yes, the woman dancing at water’s edge had wings.

“Did you see the woman with the wings?” we all asked each other as we straggled to the car. “Yes,” we all answered. “Weird.” Maybe we would have progressed further in the conversation, but I noticed a scrape on Nick’s friend’s face. “You okay?” I asked. “What happened?” He’d collided with a guy who didn’t get out of the way, but was fine, he said. “Did you see his tooth?” Nick asked. Sure enough, chipped. But it didn’t seem to have broken to the nerve – had chipped vertically, not broken. “You okay?” I asked. He assured me he was fine. The next day I found out he had a three chipped teeth and a fractured jaw! I called his mom and apologized profoundly for not realizing he was more seriously hurt. Poor kid. He’s back in the water already, though.

#57: Jetty. Lots of current, a mediocre bar. Five of us paddling in the sunshine. A set rolled through. As it receded to shore, one of the guys popped up from underwater, holding the tail section of his board in hand. “What happened?” asked his friend. “I don’t know,” he answered. “You okay?” his friend asked. “Sure,” he said, and set off swimming toward the beach. But the current just pushed him back into the impact zone. Remembering the times I’ve had to swim at the Jetty – and hoping someone would look out for my kid in his place – I kept an eye on him. Finally I paddled over and suggested he try climbing out on the rocks. He was concerned about getting washed into them, but agreed he wasn’t ever going to reach shore at the non-existent rate he was going. I paddled over to the jetty in case he needed help, but he clambered up just fine, his tail section still in hand. I, meanwhile, did get caught in a surge and scraped my board against the rocks. The board itself looks okay, but one of the fins is shredded.

#58: Camel. So much sunshine! Dropping tide! Head-high swell! Glorious day! I met up with a friend who hadn’t surfed in ages. I invited another friend to hang out on the beach for his birthday. I picked up snacks at Wildberries. I brought the children and met my husband there. Absolutely perfect! And then, in the time it took to change into our wetsuits, the fog rolled in, obscuring the sun and most of what was happening in the water. My friend had already bolted down the trail. Kaylee decided to pass and stayed in the truck doing homework. Nick’s friends were showing up, so he was going no matter what. Bobby passed and kept our friend company up top. I shrugged off the fog and descended to waves that really needed a bit lower tide to work – but I did catch one nice little right that made the decision worth it. We stayed out too long, unable to tell when the sun set, only coming in when the fog had turned more black than gray. We changed in the dark and gave Nick’s friends a ride home. (“Other moms let their kids go surfing alone,” Nick never fails to point out. “Other moms haven’t actually seen a shark attack,” I point out back.) And it’s fall, officially.

(Final note: When Terrence, the photographer, was speaking with someone later that day, she asked him, “What did you do today?” He said, “I just did a bunch of aerial photography. A long pause occurred. She then said, “Um, you were photographing mermaids?”)


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