A wave curls, topples and breaks overhead. I pop out the backside and lie on my back floating in its wake. It's like looking through a fishbowl, I see blue sky above with eucalyptus trees and ocean spray bobbing around the periphery. Two pelicans pass overhead leaving behind a trail of mental-chatter. “Predators of the sea ..I wonder if they can see their prey or do they sense them some other way ..and why can’t I do that ..and why do I always ask the same questions ..?” “Ungrounded” is how my father would answer. “Totally impractical and too childish to even consider.” His voice reminds me to return to the present ..he’s not here now. A swell passes, lifting me in the air as it goes. Now I’m upright and definitely tuned to the present. A wall of water is approaching. I burst into action and try to match its speed. It picks me up and drops me ..the momentum of the fall helping me stay ahead of the break.
The ocean is olive-green with a soft silvery glow where the sun is absorbed (not reflected) by the surface. There’s a strong northwest swell but mostly small mushy waves. So I’m swimming just outside them. I run into Barb on the beach where she’s preparing for her regular swim out to the shipping lanes. I sit with Joanne and her son Ryan and share a couple mouthfuls of sushi rolled in seaweed. Ryan is 6-years old and just finished surf-camp. He likes to tell people he’s part Cherokee. He already looks like a California surfer with thick blond hair, dusty tan and cool Oakley shades. He goes and grabs his boogie board and I take him out and launch him on the waves. He rides them into shore and quickly paddles back into position ..where I launch him again. Says he likes the feeling of bobbing up and down in the water. “So do I ..” I tell him.
Julie tells me about a concert series playing Thursdays at Chase Palm Park. I feel confident I know where that is ..but she tells me I’m wrong. Now I’m standing where I thought it was ..and I know I’m wrong. This is Rainbow Park. A lifeguard explains that Chase Palm Park follows the shore and ends at the wharf. Somewhere in-between, it juts inland where there’s a small amphitheater. “You outta’ go see a show ..” he says “..they’re pretty cool.” “You gonna’ go..?” I ask. “Oh yeah!” Down by the water, I’m tracking a low flying pelican until I see it veer off just in time to avoid beaning a kid sitting in the surf. From that close, it looks like a small VW. The kid doesn’t seem to notice but his mother looks pretty shaken. Now I’m close enough to where I can tell her not to worry “..they’ve got sonar” I say.
Thursday December 6, 2007: Today I read about the humongous waves I experienced yesterday (see Offshore crush below). They actually started out as swells several days before ~ hundreds of miles out to sea. Somewhere between Hawaii and California; they got amp’d.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007: The forecast today calls for warm and sunny skies ~ offshore wind ~ and humongous waves. I pop some vitamin C ~ chase it with fruit juice and coffee ~ put the top down ~ toss my body board in ~ and careen through town ~ feeling warm but doubtful there‘ll be much surf ~ we just don’t get humongous waves here. I round the bend from Olive Mill Road to Channel Drive ~ that runs along the beach ~ where I enter a fog bank so thick ~ it blots out the sun. Burn-off, I suppose ~ no, wait ~ its ocean spray being thrown off the swells hitting the shore ~ creating a mist that hangs in the air. I pull over ~ run across the sand ~ and dive in ~ realizing, in horror, I’m over my head in break water ~ created by humongous waves crashing ~ one after the other ~ leaving me nothing to do except hang on and ride them in.