We had been sitting there watching the waves for a while. The swell was enormous, way too big to be surfing Willow Creek in my opinion, which was why we were in the van drinking coffee. Each set of waves seemed bigger than the next, and watching the waves unleash their fury on the shore helped us realize how large and powerful the ocean really was, and how tenuous our position on the land. The van shook in the parking lot.
We saw a group of twenty-somethings drive up and get ready to paddle out without looking at the surf for more than a minute, and we got to watch their attempt at taming the angry ocean. They made it out to the lineup okay, and actually caught a couple, but then one of the giant ten wave close-out set came through, and it basically swept them all down the coast and into the sketchy rocks on the shoreline. One guy’s leash broke and his surfboard (what looked like a brand new Al Merrick –the expensive sports car of surfboards) was battered painfully on the mossy stones. They all made it back to shore safe but shaken, and hobbled back to their car through the cobbles at the water’s edge, carrying their surfboards along with whatever was left of their pride. They then loaded up their stuff and drove back to wherever they had come from, defeated but still alive. One can only hope the experience taught them something.
Then these two old timers rolled up in an classic ragtop sedan. They saw a wave come through and immediately decided to suit up and paddle out without watching it for more than a couple minutes. But by the time they got down to the waterline to launch in the frothing sea, they had witnessed one of those enormous close out sets come through, and wisely decided against paddling out. I thought for sure we would be observing a repeat of the previous beat down, but these wise old carps knew enough to stay out of the water.
So was it wisdom or fear, and are those really the same thing? Maybe it just takes us many trips around the sun to figure out what we should be afraid of. Despite the physical weathering of the body, apparently there are some advantages to aging after all.
And, of course, let us not mention the rushed, nearsighted, and brazen shortcomings of youth.
Willow Creek Picnic Ground (by Frank Kehren)
Written for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Golden Years