Air temperature 43ºF. Water 56ºF. Wind 15mph with gusts to 20. Surf waist to chest high on them. Current running north to south. 8 and 11 years old, paddling next to the pier…..the tiny one following her friend like a little duck. This is what dedication looks like. Me? I stood on the beach shivering, with frozen, numb hands thrust in my fleece jacket, eyes on the girls; a sentinal. They paddled out into the ocean, boards running sideways to the current; Mia struggling to stay near the pier and finally allowing the current to take her away from her stronger friend to the breaking surf. She caught the first wave that came to her. I pumped my fist in the air so she could see that I was watching.
Remember this image the next time you worry about your child on the high slide, the monkey bars or licking a cake spoon with raw eggs in the batter. It’s all relative.
When Mia came out of the water and walked to the warm car on wooden feet, another surfer was grabbing his board to get in the water. He saw Mia and said “Hey, how old are you?” and she replied with numb lips “I’m 8 years old”. The man said “I have a $350 wetsuit that I bought in California for my son. It’s really nice. I want you to have it. My son outgrew it. I have been waiting to give it to someone who really has the stoke. You surfing in this proves you do. It’s yours!”
And so it is with surfers. They are like this. They give freely to pass the joy…the stoke…on to those who understand.
It is a family of strangers.