Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Wave Stoke

I waited for it. I looked for it. It happened.

Christmas waves!

Actually I've been waiting since last Christmas. That day there were very good little waves. But I hadn't included surfing in my Christmas plans. Instead, I had promised to visit an old friend. For reasons that are too complicated and sad to go into here, that experience turned out to be deeply depressing. I wished I had surfed.

This year, once I got a hint of possible waves in the forecast, I decided to leave that possibility open.

I am very into ritual and tradition at Christmas, slow to change. But sometimes change can be good. For instance, I bought all new Christmas ornaments this year. Thank god---that was only about ten years overdue! I didn't realize how sick I was of all the old ornaments and their baggage. My tree looks so much better! And guess what---no icicles!

Cautiously, I even played around with my traditional Christmas menu. And that turned out to be a good thing too.

But I haven't changed the Christmas cookies. Some things cannot be improved upon.

It was a gorgeous sunny Christmas morning. A look out the window at eight a.m. confirmed it: I got what I wanted for Christmas!

And no one out!

There was time, because a look out the window also confirmed that the wind was brisk. Time for more traditional Christmas celebrations, until the wind turned...

By which time there were tons of people out, but that was OK.

A touch of west still in the wind meant the waves were closing out a little too soon---well, at least for me; other people were able to get better longer rides. Still, the waves were fun sized and there were enough of them---with the sun and warm temperatures, a great way to spend Christmas afternoon. I got several rides. On none of them did I get the timing and balance exactly right, but some I rode all the way in. That means, while others were riding down the line even on these closeouts to end up down the beach a ways, I was zigging and zagging but pretty much going straight, only just keeping from falling as the waves closed out.

Still, rides on Christmas!

After that, I was pooped. But not too pooped for the traditional Christmas dinner (all I can tell you is that, in my household, it involves four quarts of heavy cream and has about twelve zillion calories) and the concert of traditional Christmas music held every year at the Cathedral of St. John, a great place to end a Christmas day.

I think I have just started a new Christmas tradition.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The unexpected

When I do my annual writeup of the highlights and lowlights of the past year (not for public consumption, just for me), I know what I am going to title it: The Year of the Unexpected.

Because there's no way, this time last year, I could ever have imagined all that's happened in 2008. No way I would ever have thought I would be where I am.

The best things in life are so often unexpected.

This week, they included: Stopping into the Steinway piano store on 57th St. on a whim and getting to play a truly extraordinary nine-foot concert grand for an uninterrupted hour.

And today, it was a surprise surf session in a snowstorm.

Actually, the snow had pretty much stopped by the time I got out. But I will never get over the thrill of walking through snow to get to the water. (If I get tired of it, shoot me; it's one of those thrills, like watching a sunset out of an airplane window, that no one alive should ever tire of.)

The wind was light and north, and the only way to describe the waves today was lazy. They were small and slow, my favorite kind. I could ride as many as I could catch, and it wasn't difficult. Despite the snow, the air was warm, even the water seemed warm for December. I did perfect popups and then worked on trying to keep my balance as the wave closed out, as they do so quickly here. I was able to do that better than I ever have before. And again, and again, until dark.

I don't know what 2009 will bring, surfing-wise and otherwise; I do know that it won't be what I expected.