Monday, May 21, 2012

Rinsing Out the Cobwebs

Three weeks since back-to-back session with the Stentor of Stoke; three weeks on the road in London, Miami and DC; three weeks dry.

Forecasts were mediocre, a travel-incubated cold threatened and jet-lag drained energy.  Having returned only Saturday night, my body was still on East Coast time, though, bringing an unusual early Sunday wakefulness.  So I found myself once again on pilgrimage to the Park, just looking to rinse out the cobwebs.

The day was gray, but conditions clean and the first wave I saw substantially bigger than the waist-high breakers I expected - if a bit crumbly.

The water temperature reading from the San Clemente pier was 65, outweighing the temptation brought by the cool morning to don the full wetsuit.  The ease of slipping into my "spring/shorty" - 2mm with short legs and sleeves - for the first time since October enhanced the anticipation and shortly I was easing into the cool water; a bit chilled at first but happy to reacquaint with the ease of movement and intimacy with the surrounding water.

Looking South to Cottons, there was a strangely large pack of surfers out - equaling the normal population for an exceptional surf day - but at the Park, only a half-dozen were scattered about.  The North side of Main Peak was empty, so Sailfish and I swam out there.  Quickly, we were catching surprisingly fun, peaky combers.  As we worked our way against the current into the center of the Main Peak, largely alone, a pod of a dozen dolphin swam in and spent five minutes weaving amongst us as they fed, passing, unconcerned, within a few feet.

Through the two-hour session, there were some long lulls, punctuated by bursts of energy that lasted several minutes for spurts of several rides.  But the water was comfortable, the sun slid in and out and the wind stayed mild, even when it turned onshore.  The water, deep blue-green under the gray sky, was clear and sometimes luminous in the waves hollow enough to offer tubes.  The vibe in the water stayed mellow as surfers came and went - never more than five or six in the water.  Activity on shore presaged Memorial Day weekend and the coming of summer, as lifeguard stations were partially manned for the first time this season.

The guy above was out, fishing from a longboard, when I first arrived and through the first half of the session.  At one point during the first hour, he reeled up his line, quickly broke down his rod, swiveled, took two strokes, and popped up, still holding his rod, as the longboard latched onto an outside wave just starting to hump up.  After a languorous ride, he turned the board seaward, paddled back out, and resumed casting.

Redressing in the parking lot, instead of the ritual of winter and spring, quickly rinsing and dressing to chase away the chill of the session, we appreciated the leisure of an unchilled wardrobe change and the return of warm air.  The promise of summer.
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