Space shuttles jettison SRBs (solid rocket boosters), snakes shed skin, and surfers, very happily, leave wetsuits in the closet and “trunk it” the way they did on Hawaiian shores some thousand years ago. Which is to say that it’s that time again. Summer means more water time. It means burning hot sand and ice-cold beverages gulped down between sessions. It means more fleshly creatures on the beach, which typically amounts to more spring in the cross-step, more bounce in the air reverse. It means beach BBQs and backyard pool parties and hopefully buckets of big south swells.
I remember my first surfing summer. The year was 1978. I had a red Wilken single fin with a diamond tail. I wore—and I’m not making this up—a pair of light blue Birdwells that, if memory serves, I mail ordered from Kanoa Surf via their ad in Surfer. In my memory the water is effervescent, champagne-like. I’m out at the first jetty at Will Rogers State Beach in Santa Monica, California. The surf is waist- to shoulder-high. In my digestive system is a double scoop of chocolate chocolate chip on a sugar cone from Baskin Robbins, topped with half a pack of watermelon Now & Laters. In my head is the intro to Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold,” along with flashes of Buttons Kaluhiokalani’s dazzling cutbacks and 360s from the movie Many Classic Moments, which I’d seen a few nights earlier at the Tarzana 4-Plex.
I’m standing in waist-deep water, the occasional creepy-crawler scrabbling beneath my feet. I don’t need much, just a couple seconds of knee-high green face. A wave looms. I launch, stroke, hop to feet (without knees, the way they’d taught me at BC Surf Camp). I tuck low, attempt to angle (“cutting” we called it). Champagne whooshes past. The frothy lip tickles my sunburnt right shoulder. I feel a combination of Bruce Lee and Buttons, the speed and momentum a cool breeze, a breath from the sea, a giddy-up in my belly.
And then there are literary quotes about summer. I poked around online, added a few of my favorites—
“In summer, the song sings itself.”
“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.”
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies,I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”