June 28, 2020
The moon is half full today and I am surprised at how quickly that happened. The high tide was at 11:30ish, topping out over 1 foot, but the south swell was predicted to be filling in. I met M– back at Mahaʻulepu, both of us hoping to pick up some of the big south swell without the scene that happens at Acids. We didn’t see much of promise from up top, but we headed down anyway and were rewarded with some truly fun surf. The difference between yesterday and today is stark. The waves today stood up tall and fat, some pitching over at the peak and again on the inside, many easily over head. Though the wait between sets was long and unpredictable, there was still plenty of fun to be had.
Between waves we chatted about dogs, boards, our children growing up, the virus. We talked about empathy, or the general lack thereof, that seems to be somehow stuck to people of privilege. M– also talked about when he worked for a newspaper in Sitka and the guy who took his job, who now works for Stanford and writes books about his life with his wife and kids traveling the world on a tugboat.
There were almost no people on the shore, no one in the water with us. A few couples walked by, with dogs or without. One stopped to watch us and seemed to wave, though we did not know them. A couple of young women did a photoshoot, taking turns being the subject and photographer, showing off their carefree lifestyle in thongs. When they finished, they changed into hiking clothes, one simply standing naked for a moment, spinning her bathing around in the air, to shake the water out I suppose, her body moving in time with the suit. The other laid down to change, a bit more modest I guess, but sandier for her modesty.
After a few hours, after the women walked off, a group of three surfers headed down the hill. M– was already late to make it home and I was not interested in waiting through the long lulls to then jostle for the one or two waves that showed up in the sets. He made it in on a decent left and I found one more fun right, winding all the way inside to a ramp that helped me boost high and fast. I landed in the flats and stayed up for just a second, then paddled back out. The crew of three paddled past, two women in that new vogue, a one piece thong, and a guy. They smiled and said hello. “That was a great wave you just caught,” the sun shining on her as she glided past me. “Thanks. Some fun ones out here.”
After a quick visit at M–ʻs house, and some lunch with Erin and V, I took Violet out for a surf. We headed down to Wailua Bay to check out the sandbar that had setup since the storms this March. The waves was breaking way out and were much bigger than what she has been riding at Hanalei, but she was stoked to get in the water. I paddled out with her on the front of the board, surprised at how difficult that was. We pearled on our first wave but Violet popped up laughing. From there, it was wave after wave, long rides, me steering from the back, Violet standing, crouching, touching the wave face with her hands. She caught a few on her own, proud that she was surfing with big kids and grown ups around, who all smiled and shouted at her rides.
I havenʻt surfed three days in a row for quite a while, twice today, once with an extra 50 pounds on my board. I am tired and happy.
June 29, 2020
Strike that. Four days in a row now. I ran down to Kealia around 9:30 for a quick one hour session while my students were working on Lexia. The shore down there is still covered in sticks, twigs, tree limbs, huge trunks, and tiny branches, but the water is clear now, blue and white and green. The large south swell was pushing into the bay, closing out across the middle sandbars, but a few lefts and rights were running at the north end, the landing.
This is the same ocean, the same beach. I have been in these waters for 40+ years, the waves are energy from somewhere, from a storm near New Zealand, from a tropical storm halfway to Mexico, from winds that swept across tundra, across mountains, across places with names I donʻt know, that are maybe lost to English. The water at Kealia has decided to be an ocean, to be a bay, wiikwegamaa. The water at Kealia was once a river, was once a rain storm, was once an ocean somewhere else, and the water there now has decided to be a wave, or a series of waves, crashing across the sands and sticks on the shores of Kealia Kai.
I paddled out, my muscles sore from the last few days of surfing. The waves, the water being a wave, rolled through fast and heavy, most not breaking until the inside shallows, the tide too high. I was lured over to the inside as I waited for my first wave and was then caught out of position when the set finally rolled in, twice as big and well over head, thicker than a building, breaking way outside. I missed that first set. I missed the next, as well. I was scratching around, trying to find the water being a wave I could ride. Eventually I found a rhythm and was able to get five or six fun rides in before my hour in the ocean was up. I took my last wave, a big clean right, all the way to shore, showered, and headed home to finish teaching, where my students were waiting to learn about and practice curiosity and kindness.
The wind and the surfer are in a complicated relationship. The wind is necessary, sought after, studied, followed. It brings the waves. It sweeps the water up into water that is being a wave, water that is being a wave crashing across a reef. The wind is air, molecules, persuaded to move from high to low pressure, running across the sea, from somewhere else, until it reaches me. But the wind also crosses up those waves, pushes them down into white wash, into disorganized piles of sound and energy. The wind and the surfer are in a complicated relationship.
“It is July and I have hope in who I am becoming.”
“…never seemed so strange…”
July 2, 2020
Originally the 5th month, quintilis, renamed to honor Julius in the later Roman calendar, replacing the old english “later mildness,” as opposed to the earlier mildness of June.
Today is my birthday, 42 years ago. After teaching my last class of the summer, and a great breakfast and presents, and a foot scrub of coffee grounds and olive oil, we packed up and headed to Mahaʻulepu. The moon is well past half, nearing three quarters full and the tide is exceptionally high, topping out at 2.23 feet around 2:45 this afternoon.
We made it down to the beach by 11:00, me with a body board for the girls, my backpack with water and a book, and my just finished wooden board under my aching arm. 18 pounds seems fine walking around the yard, but 18 pounds is heavy under the arm on a walk down the hill and across the stream and over rocks and down the shore. I paddled that new board out for the first time into an already high tide and decent swell, hoping for the best. It paddles well, floats perfectly, and surfs alright. On a wave, it feels different, heavy, slow maybe, very tight in the tail, and the inside rail wants to dip under the water, but I eventually found a fun rhythm with it and enjoyed the strange, heavy, glidey feel of it under my feet over the water.
I only stayed out for about an hour, just wanting to try it out, to see if all that work was worth it or folly. After a number of fun, head high waves, I floated straight in over the reef to join my family under the trees. We snacked and headed up the shore to swim. The girls decided it would be more fun to bodysurf naked (who can argue). The waves were pounding up where we were swimming, pitching up and barreling across the sand then running high up the shore to the naupaka and iron wood. The water was crystal clear, light blue, and wonderful. We all had fun, Erin floating and letting some waves push her, the girls diving under big sets, body surfing up the sand, and flipping over so their butts popped out of the water, and me riding the red bodyboard into some super fun shore break. Eventually, I joined the girls in some skinny dipping, before we all headed back to our stuff.
It is always ourselves we find in the sea. That is what it says on the underside of the board I built. I donʻt feel like I am looking, but I think it is a true fact.