As an east-coast November kicks off, I find myself sometimes drifting in my mind to the Pacific. Here's where I tend to go:
One February Sunday, a gray and forbidding morning, I got out the door even before my first coffee. My aim was to grab a cup at the Island Brew Cafe on the marina, and go watch the waves rolling into Sunrise Beach. This being a Sunday, formal “sunrise” was already in the past, but the overcast made the point moot. I packed a camp chair into the car, put on some water shoes, and headed out.
When I got to the water, I grabbed the chair and planted it in the sand. There were only a few shore fisherman on one side of a berm, and just me and the waves on the other.
The surf was wild. The evening before, I had noticed the most energetic wave action crashing at China Walls, and apparently the churn was still on. The air was thick with sea mist. I looked west and saw the looming hulk of Koko Crater, a greenish gloom against the pewter sky. The top of the crater seemed almost disconnected from the earth, cut off by the whitish salt mist.
It wasn’t windy, but the waves were piling in and piling on, crashing into each other before beating onto the rocks. The air was visible up and down the beach, but not if I looked straight out. I could taste salt on my lips. I sat and sipped, watching the turmoil as the waves broke and pushed into the rocky tidal pools a dozen yards from me, then sluiced back out through the ragged crannies.
My coffee was finished, but I sat and watched. I’ve found that, despite telling myself it’s time to move on, I can't tear myself away from the water. My daughter once called the rolling surf mesmerizing, and that’s exactly what it is. It casts a spell that you don’t want to break. Turning your back on the surf is hard.
After 45 minutes, I walked barefoot into the tidal pool directly in front of me. I egg-shelled over the slippery, eroded volcanic rock into the clear pool. The cold shock of the first contact phased quickly to inviting, and my feet sank into in the sand. Up to my knees in clear water, I waited while more pushed into and out of the pool where I was standing.
It took me another half hour to slowly pull back, imagining weirdly that part of me was sluicing out with the water as it rushed away from the shore.