Smoke on the Water: Cold Water Sessions
“I know we’ll never forget, smoke on the water, fire in the sky” -Deep Purple
The alarm went off at 6:30 am. It seemed as if I was being yelled at in a repetitive robotic chant from a crazed cult leader. I didn’t understand the language, but instinctively I knew exactly what it meant: “Get your ass out of bed.”
Lost in the solace of a deep slumber, the alarm was certainly a rude awakening. The mechanical wail of a phone or clock is never a pleasant sound to hear first thing in the morning. The sunlight gradually peeking through the windows is a much more subtle and enjoyable way to be awoken, but the sun hadn’t risen yet, so the mechanized mantra, “Get your ass out of bed, get your ass out of bed, get…” was what I had to work with.
I was warm and comforted under the innumerable blankets I had piled on the bed the night before. My body heat, coupled with my girlfriend’s, created the perfect atmosphere for the exact opposite of what I had to do: jump up and get ready to go surfing. We had just gotten dumped on with easily a foot of snow the day before. The temperatures of the air coupled with the stiff offshore winds were below zero. As I thought of the sort of suffering that can come with winter surfing, I decided to drift back to sleep. Then the texts started coming in. I quickly leaped out of bed and got on with it.
There were conflicting surf reports, many were saying the swell from the day before had already dissipated and vanished. But the afternoon before, Christor and I agreed on a location that tends to filter in swell when many surrounding breaks appear to be flat. After gathering my gear, putting on my suit, and slowly driving to the break, I was contented. As I sat in my car, letting the blasting heat warm me up, the view before me washed all my reluctance away. Perfect waist to chest high peelers were running through, sea smoke appeared to come off the ocean’s surface as if it were on fire, and what seemed to be a mystical golden hue filled the morning sky.
As I was waxing my board, fellow surfer, local tattoo artist and musician, Erik Schmidt, pulled up and onto a wall of snow. With an agreeing grin on his face, I knew I would have someone to share the morning surf with.
Entering the water was more inviting than standing on the beach, as it’s the fact of the water temperature being warmer than that of the air which creates that enchanting sea smoke. With our first waves, we knew it was well worth the paddle out, as we both enjoyed back to back long lefts all the way into the cove. The rest of the session we enjoyed alone. Surfers pulled up along the bridge, watching from overhead, only to drive off most likely thinking staying warm was a better option.
The energy of stoke filled the air, much like the sea smoke, not making a big deal of itself, yet ever apparent and present. A magical morning I won’t forget anytime soon.
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