There is a kind of magic involved when you get up on a surfboard and start to go. A disbelief that the forces of hydraulics, gravity, tide and distant storms mysteriously combine to propel you forward, as if flying. It’s a feeling you want to last forever, and when the wave inevitably peters out or you hit the beach, you want that feeling again and again. Earlier this spring we were fortunate enough to escape the chilly weather here for family time–Thanks, Mom!–in the warmth of one of our favorite places, the island of Kauai. And both kids graduated from boogie boards to standing up for long rides on perfect waves that rolled in behind a rocky point. I was stoked for them to feel the magic. As I’ve found with our fishing together, it was far more fun for me, as their dad, to help and watch them ride than to catch a wave or fish myself. And man, what a lot of fun! I’m pretty sure if we lived on that island instead of our own, surf would take over our lives. And I’d be okay with that. Probably better than okay. But then, I’d miss the cool air and the smell of evergreens and chasing salmon here in the Pacific Northwest, so we’ll just call it a wash and consider ourselves lucky. Very lucky indeed.
This will, perhaps, ring a bell for anyone who lives in a rural area or just relies on a septic system. My weekend went like this: First, it was time to have the septic tank pumped. Called the company and booked a time and date next week. But in order for the pump truck to access the tank, I realized I needed to cut up and clear the old apple tree that fell during a winter storm. But in order to cut up the tree, I needed to get the chainsaws running. And in order to even work on the saws, I needed to go buy two-cycle oil and gas… One thing leads to another, with a nice big slice of aggravation pie on the side.
Long story short. Took a few deep breaths, mixed the gas, fixed the saws, got ’em running and spent the weekend making sawdust. Kind of like that old joke about what happens when you play a country song backward, you know the one: You get sober, your dog returns home and your girl comes back. Or something like that. Anyway, tree’s cleared and pump truck’s coming Tuesday. If there was anyone around, they would’ve heard me say “Hold my beer, now watch this…”
I admit, three hours into a six-hour drive through Friday I-5 traffic, I was no longer thinking about the upcoming volleyball tournament. Crawling through the parking lot that is Portland, I was thinking, it’s a beautiful day, we should be on the water, fishing. Not that I’m a stranger to such thoughts. I’ve had them for all the twice-a-week volleyball practices in a town an hour’s drive away, and during the other tournaments we’ve driven to this season. And for every basketball practice and long weekend of hoops in various places around the state. This is the reason it’s become increasingly difficult to squeeze our usual outdoor activities into the schedule.
But then I think this is what the kids want to do, and they work hard to be good at it. And I consider how much they’ve grown–physically, mentally, emotionally–as part of their teams. At 14 and 11 years old, I understand that my day-to-day time with Skyla and Weston is increasingly short, and if this is what they want to do, I want to do it with them. And when I watch Skyla jump serve, or Weston drive to the hoop, I realize something else: This is really fun.
With both kids playing competitive sports and all the resulting travel, it’s been tough to squeeze in our usual outdoor pursuits. Skyla, on her way to another distant, all-weekend volleyball tournament sent me a text, which I received while driving Weston to his all-weekend basketball tournament, saying, “We need to go fishing soon, Dad.” That’s how it’s been this spring.
Saturday was the 4-hour Puget Sound spot prawn opener. Skyla couldn’t make it, but Weston and I wanted to go. Of course, we needed to be in a town an hour and a half away by early afternoon, and I wasn’t picking him up from his mom’s house until 9:30am. Tight squeeze.
Captain Smarty to the rescue. He picked us up off the beach at 10:00am, we jumped in and headed back to the shrimp grounds. We pulled four pots with full limits for us, cleaned the shrimp, and made it home in time to change out of saltwater gear and into basketball gear (Weston, not me) to hit the road just in time. That’s Weston warming up for basketball with a trophy spot prawn above, and John, Helene and Weston cleaning shrimp below. Now, after eating delicious, sweet prawns for four days straight, I think I’m sweating shrimp. But it was exactly what we needed. Thanks, Smarty!
In our very tiny Kingdom of Fish, a prince and princess were married this weekend. Driving down the lower Columbia on my way to the festivities, the weather came through in pounding white squalls, rain crashing into the windshield like bullets. Not the best sign for the outdoor beach wedding to come. When I arrived, I asked the bride if they had a Plan B in place. She said, quoting her royal sage, Alan, “I’m going to trust in the universe.” I had to turn away quickly so she wouldn’t see my eyes roll. A beach wedding in April on the Oregon coast. Ha!
It rained through the night. We woke to gray skies, chilly drizzle and wind sweeping across the beach. A big swell brought crashing waves and salty spindrift. I dug through my bags for goretex, fleece and puff. Walked the beach leaning into the wind and wishing I’d brought a beanie.
The wedding would start at 3:00pm. At 2:30, as the crowd gathered, the sky lightened. By 2:45, blue appeared overhead and sunlight streamed down, raising steam from the ground. And at the appointed time, with the royal court forming a circle on the beach, the prince and princess strolled onto the beach under blazing sunlight, not a breath of wind, and the dark clouds pushed to the east. Trust in the universe. A truly epic weekend of good friends, festivities and a groundswell of love. Late that night, as the party wound down, the weather returned with black sheets of rain and whistling wind. Trust in the universe. But bring the goretex and puff anyway. You know, just in case.