Today on The Gulf
By Dave Kaiser
What a beautiful day along the Gulf Coast near Navarre. The family was going to spend time on the beach and I was going to get in some boogie board time on the waves. Walked out on the beach, carrying all the supplies we needed for the day and began to set up base camp. We have a shelter that puts up rather quickly and easily except today. There is a good swift breeze blowing off the gulf trying to turn our shelter into a kite. It took all four of us to complete the installation of the structure when most days I could do it by myself. I could not help but think of John Candy in his film, Summer Rental, as we discovered on our first attempt we had somehow had one side right side up and the other end upside down. This should have been an easy fix yet somehow it was not. Three more tries later and the shelter was established.
Mom was settled in her beach chair prepared to watch over the water, Dad was on his way down to the water line to hunt for shells, Peggy was checking over supplies and then would join Dad, and I grabbed my board and headed out towards the waves.
The water was a beautiful emerald green close to shore and then a little further out it turned into a deep blue. Across the water sporadic white caps were the promise of waves to ride. The water felt cool at first but in no way caused one to pull back from entering. The waves invited me out to play and yet tried to push me back to shore. I made my way through the shoulder high water to reach the sand bar where the waves first broke. With the boogie board in hand I look over the approaching waves and begin the patient search for the right wave. I knew the spot I chose would be a good spot for I saw many breaking waves hit that area as I made my way out into the water. Now that I am here I can see great waves crash to the left and right of me and a few break after they pass me. These are all just tricks of the water to tempt you away so that you will be out of position to catch the great wave. If you succumb and go to those other spots the waves will surely die and the wave meant for you will pass by because you are not there. The important part of experiencing life is being there to experience it. So I stay put and waited for that wave. I am hanging onto the board and the waves have me bobbing up and down. At times I see what must be the wave heading my way. I can just see it looming over the waves in front of it. I set my timing and go… but no I don’t have it right yet. Too late in leaving and the wave pushes past me. Trying to recover and a wave equal to the one missed collapses no top of me, having had my back to it.
The water, she loves it when you turn your back to her, she will make you pay for that mistake. Fighting my way back to my chosen spot I struggle through sister waves of the one I mistimed. Now I go back to the routine of watching the coming waves. While I look across the water I wonder what ships are passing far from my site, what life swims by me unseen, did the kid down the way pee in the water? Ah here comes my wave. It is building and the wave is holding together. The curl grows but does not collapse. I can feel the water pulling past me to feed the coming wave. I struggle to fight against the tug of water and build up speed with my board. The wave picks me up and propels me forward. I can hear the water flowing under my board and feel the spray of saltwater in my face as the curl breaks and the white water continues to push my board towards the beach. Yes, it all came together and I had a good ride. The best ride this month and now, after wiping the water from my face, it is time to hustle back out to my spot to get the next wave meant for me.