Birds are singing!
A grey pall hangs in the air this morning. The sort of grey that rudely threatens to malinger all day. Thick. Monochromatic. Lazy. One lonely crow squawks a miserable song in the backyard. A vehicle is backing up somewhere on the street making that horrendous beeping sound.
Maybe its a hearse.
Or a refrigerator truck.
Everything is the color of death, the sound of death maybe reflecting the hundreds of thousands of otherwise healthy overweight diabetics with underlying heart conditions north of 80 years-old who are mysteriously dying but I’m entirely unaware of the grey, the crow, the refrigerator truck and/or hearse, the fragility of life because I’m in love.
In love and there’s music playing. In love and it’s almost like praying.
In love with a beautiful mid-length surfboard and I don’t care if the whole world knows it.
Before I received my custom 6’10 21 2/34 seamfoam green Channel Islands MID from the very hand of Devon Howard, I’ll admit to being extremely conflicted.
Would touching the thing taint me forever? Turn me into a lily-livered, big tent-preaching, cop-calling Vichy capitulator?
Maybe but Devon Howard, Devon fucking Howard, surfs the way I want to surf clean lines, no wasted movement, in control and pretty, so I touched it, posed for a picture, drove home with a mind full of sin.
The afternoon surf was garbage but… I couldn’t help it, waxed up fresh and paddled into the wind beaten chunk. I was surprised at how it moved. I thought it would be like a cork, bobbing above the water, impossible to duck dive with my spindly arms but it was no problem at all. When I saddled up it sunk to normal sitting-on-shortboard depth.
I caught a couple waves, had a bit of fun but it wasn’t good enough to fully assess.
The next morning, I woke, waxed, paddled before the wind had a chance to yuck my yum.
It was a classic Cardiff day. Peaky, shoulder high nuggets spread in front of the crumbling bluffs watched over by the ghosts of campers past.
The first wave I swung, dropped and… felt it. The board wanted to surf. It wanted to surf well. I stayed low, lower than I normally do, and thought about my body, my legs, my trunk. Made sure my hands weren’t jazz dancing. Focused on that first bottom turn. It bit with rail and fin hard and pushed back against me. I could feel the energy, feel that it wanted to harness that energy, so pointed it toward 9 o’clock (where Devon Howard told me to point it) and suddenly I was there.
On the roof of the world.
I rolled back on my heels, moving my back foot over the fin box, and took the rollercoaster drop before repeating then gliding over the diminished shoulder into the flats. It felt good, almost too good, and I quickly paddled back out, swung, dropped on a late one and it felt glued to the face, rail drawing its own line with me simply along for the ride.
It is a fast board but, riding it, my body felt slow. Like I had time to pay attention to the little things. Do those little things right. Little things that I’ve been neglecting for years. Decades. Little things blown right through on my way to trying to surf like Ritchie Collins at Newport.
I know it ain’t for every wave but it feels made for the wave a bike ride away. The one I’ll be stuck surfing most of the summer what with Coronavirus restrictions malingering with no end in sight and now, this grey morning, death all around, I’m skipping to the beach and will, in three months time, surf like Tom Curren at J-Bay.