Catching waves before the storm

This past Friday, SoCal was due for another winter storm (otherwise known as just rain).

I hadn’t surfed since Monday, and was pretty sure that Saturday and Sunday would be trashed (which happened to be the case)…so during the week I obsessively checked the surf reports (Surfline and Wetsand being my two favorites) as well as buoy reports in between clients. It was flat on the other days or I had to report into work early, so I had opted for yoga instead, but always my mind wondered about the waves. For me, sometimes, my mind dances along the two edges of the coin…yoga? Or surf? Which one is more the effort today? If it is the weekend, I can do both and be deliciously exhausted and take a nice nap in the afternoon. But, if I have to work until 7pm, then I better conserve my energy.

Friday was my day off. The storm was expected to come later in the day…I awoke at 5am in anticipation, loaded the yoga mat and surfboard in the car (just in case either did not work out), and still was not sure whether to head to the ocean or to the yoga shala. Sometimes I just call on the intuitive spirit to guide me…which means that, at the last minute, I may turn around and do the complete opposite of what I had planned to do, because of a feeling that struck me. I call it spontaneity, and my husband calls it completely aggravating. By 6am the coffee was brewing and I was already checking the surfcam for my favorite spot, and noticing how the sky in the east was just beginning to turn a lighter shade of indigo…

610am — there is light in the sky, and only a light breeze; the palms in our yard were swaying ever so slightly, and I could still see a few of the stars in the clear sky. Light breeze, clear sky (with only a hint of dark storm front in the west), and rising buoys = SURF!!

I don’t know what happened, but I didn’t get to the beach until almost 8. Oh, yeah, maybe making breakfast for the children and sending Dylan off to school had something to do with it. By the time I got to the surf, the South wind had already picked up a bit, and that dark storm front along the western portion of the sky was edging closer.  There was a sense of foreboding and anticipation in trying the catch waves before the storm…always calculating the best time, what the tide is doing, which board to take, and betting that luck will be on your side in terms of wind, waves, and crowd.

Snatches of conversation:

“Yeah, that damn south wind, it’s gonna pick up soon.”

“Well, I betcha we got 30 minutes left before it’s all trashed…”

“Eh, lookit that. Dr. Death got a good one. Snaked that other one good. Someone should shoot that guy.”

“Well, I jus’ like my li’l south corner here. Hey, let’s just split the next one, I gotta go in ta work, dammit.”

There were maybe a handful of us out there. I saw the old regulars (Zuk, Woody, Patrick) that I used to see every morning when I surfed. Oh those carefree surf days before two kids, marriage, and all that stuff — not to say that marriage and kids are bad, but they do have an effect on one’s surf time, despite the best of intentions! (I’m going to be a mommy of two and work and go to grad school and still surf! Yeah, right). The wind was side offshore, edging more and more to the south and putting a bit more texture to the water. Still, the lines that wrapped around the point were long and semi-clean…it still felt like that perfect kind of morning, when you go down the stairs and walk towards the beach, smelling the brine in the air and seeing clean lines of waves in the early morning light. The vibe was peaceful and quiet…sort of like the yoga shala in the very early  morning. We shared waves as most of us knew each other — all the while keeping a cautious eye on the sky as the storm crept closer.

It was an hour’s worth of surfing but it was worth it.  I was lucky that day and bet well — caught enough waves to be happy (maybe just one or two really nice long peelers) before the south wind really picked up and ruined the surf. By now the wind was blowing pretty hard from the South, and the lineup was empty except for a couple of brave souls holding out for the last few waves.

In the meantime, I drove up to the shala which was just a few blocks from the break. It was deliciously warm (they keep it at 78 degrees) and stretched out my cold limbs. After surfing, it takes me a while to heat up; I don’t start sweating until Marychiasana D. Made it all the way to Shalabasana, then back bends (prayed through the dropbacks and was glad I didn’t land on my head), and the finishing sequence before melting into Savasana.

It was 11 am when I finished, and by then the sky was gray with howling wind. I was happy, though; I planned well and got lucky with surf and yoga. It was now time for an early lunch at home and snuggling into the warm covers for a long nap to recharge…

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