A little while ago I rolled into the car park half an hour before dusk, not expecting much, not really expecting a rideable wave if i'm honest. Sea breezes were still blowing and at first sight they were crumbling barely knee high waves. Seconds before I turned tail and headed home, a set came through, hit the best bank on the beach and a familiar silhoueted figure carved it up smoothly with tip time and drop knee.
Decision made, I scrambled into my suit and paddled out anxious to wash off the grime and suncream after a day of shed clearing and visiting the local dump. The sets were infrequent but there were few to share them with. When they came, the waves were still a mushy waist high at best but with just enough shape to allow some fun logging, the bank marshaling the disorderly bumps into decent shape, the breeze slackening as the sun dipped towards the horizon. The small righthanders were playful and teasing, demanding fleet of foot and light of touch but rewarding with stolen moments of ten over and dropped knee. Kick outs with smile lost in the fading light.
As i sat waiting, alone with my thoughts, it struck me how personal the surfing experience is, how little the experience of each wave is shared no matter how many there are in the line up. How the feel and the feelings engendered are different (yet the same) for each of us, modified by board choice and local conditions. For me it's the little things i love, the perfect imperfections. I'm drawn to the edges of things. The warmth of the sun on your face, the glow of the sunset sky, water drawn over soft rails, making the most of a flawed wave. It's in the subtle grace of good trim, the weightless feel of a well placed noseride, the sweeping swing of a well timed cutback and the addictive momentum of a well timed fade as you take off. Grace in adversity, good style making economy of movement more powerful than wild action. It didn't need to be six foot and perfect, i didn't need to be here yesterday, i just needed to be here now.
The light was gone all too soon and I wandered out in near darkness, spent but smiling, storing my little packets of stokefulness like a squirrel mindful of the uncertainty of my next meal but content with an appetite sated.