It's about life - not "lifestyle"
I didn't want to babysit camera equipment. I don't even like babysitting surfboards. The Santa Ana winds were blowing during the days, leaving what is called "Santa Ana conditions" at night: fairly clear skies and late October sunrise temperatures of 63 degrees. I had just received my surf mat and was pretty much stoked to go out any time. During one full-moon period it all came together, with the glaring exception of having rideble surf, and I played tag with the dawn patrol almost every day for a week. The photo was taken with a simple point-and-shoot belonging to my wife.

It was skunk city for surfing, but an absolutely beautiful experience. Some days I would be at the water before 5 a.m. It's illegal to park before 7 a.m. anywhere in this picture, and the CHP are only too happy to write you a nice ticket. Sometimes you just have to say "Screw the law", and these were the days.

The morning this was taken found me parked in plain sight, sitting in the car with the windows down, t-shirt and shorts, radio on at 4:45 a.m. KTYD out of Santa Barbara was playing the old Neil Young classic "Sugar Mountain" and the car was the listening room. The miniscule surf wasn't drowning out anything. I could see the Channel Islands offshore, and the lights of the oil rigs in the Channel, and the odd fishing boat at sea. No cars were coming by. It was a dream - old California with few people, warm winds, and limitless promise. Sunrise would bring the regular dawn patrol SUV brigade, each vehicle with one occupant, each occupant on the cell phone with compatriots at various surf spots along the coast. Everybody is dialed in. The freedom of this early morning probably was coming from the obvious lack of surf.

Can you enjoy surfing more when there aren't any waves? It was an interesting thought, one which has lingered for several months. I eventually had to put it on hold for a while, along with the stigmata, as there were green caverns to investigate. Rain came and one day, as I walked over some railroad tracks and around a mud puddle, I noticed the color of my surf mat was less "bronze" and more like the warm gooey mud. I stood there holding the mat just above the organic surface of the shallow puddle and grinned like and idiot while the surf school grads with their rental softboards filed past, shaking their heads at my foolish error in equipment choice, probably glad to think that for once their boards wouldn't be the primary focus of scorn. If nothing else ever comes of it, getting that mat got me up and going and rejuiced the surf batteries to the point where I hardly think I need to go in the water for The Thrill.
Surf Mats
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