There are a multitude of conditions that can make a surf session great: Fun waves, good people, blue sky, glassy, offshore, no crowd. Sometimes, against all odds, one could have a great session when it’s - 20 (C), crowded, snowing and the most annoying surfer in town is camped out at the peak. Anything is possible in the ocean.
A few months ago, Dean Petty and I had a great surf. I got a text mid morning, with no expectations of surfing, that the waves looked fun and I should come out. The sun was shining and I had nothing better to do (I rarely have a better thing to do than surfing) so I jumped in my van and started driving. 20 minutes later I came around the bend and was greeted by knee to nipple high stringers, peelers and twizzlers marching round the frozen tip of of one of Nova Scotia’s favourite headlands, and grinding through the inside, steady and true.
We b-lined it towards the ocean and down the muddy headland, frozen like a freezer burnt frosty. Before I could put my camera together Dean had already caught 3 or 4 near perfect waves. While I scampered around searching for foreground, the sun warmed my face and the patches of exposed skin between my gloves and parka sleeves, a strange sensation for February in Nova Scotia. Eventually I returned to the van, loaded the camera in it’s housing, slipped into my fish suit and made my way back down to the water for a swim.
The water was brisk, as expected, but the wind was minimal and the sun was shining. The water dips just below zero degrees (C) at it’s coldest and we can all handle this, it’s the wind that hurts. After an hour or so on the inside the breeze shifted a few degrees to the west and came up the face so we made our way up the headland to the outside section where the water was like glass again.
We surfed, swam and hollered until our voices were gone, faces freckled and arms rubbered. I drove home in my suit, got straight into the bath and ate some ice cream.
In the age of Instagram, internet, and web cams it is somewhat of a phenomenon to get fantastic waves all to yourself, especially at a well known spot on a beautiful day. Sitting in the lineup on this day it felt like we were experiencing life in an alternate universe. No point in telling anyone about how good the waves were, they wouldn’t believe you anyways. With or without proof, days like this are a small win. Those hours were glorious and calm and they can’t be taxed, tainted or taken away by anyone. There are important and consequential issues that demand our energy constantly, but life is short and we all deserve, if we are able, to meditate on the good things for a few hours each day.