Posted by: smithdavid | June 24, 2012

The Flat Lake

‘Wait till the tide comes in, ‘round one or two, it should pick up then,’ A. said last night as we were leaving Smuggler’s. It’s two now and it’s still pretty flat. A hundred yards away, beyond the retreated waterline, a fine shadow forms parallel to the shore. It rises steadily, not amounting to much, and curls over. I shift my weight, feel those unerring rocks. The calculations begin – is it big enough?

I turn my head. There is a white camper just outside the car park – within it two familiar faces. I move to them, knock on the window.

‘Hi Jens, I’m Emmet’s friend…’

‘Ja, ja, I remember you Dave…’

‘Hi Lisa…’

Now we’re standing on the rocks again. A few other cars have gathered. We’re looking out. Heads are shaking, frowns curl on mouths.

‘At least it’s clean…’ says someone.

truly flat…

‘Too small…’ says someone else. There are mutters and nods of agreement. We may as well get in, who knows when we’ll be back, I think to say. But who am I, the novice amongst us, to tell the others what should be done?

Judie walks up from the beach. ‘It’s bigger when you’re down there…’ she says.

‘You sure about that?’ comes from the crowd.

‘I don’t care, I’m getting in; need the practice.’

‘Amen!’ I say. I think the flood gates will open – the child in me cannot understand how anyone would turn down the opportunity to be in the sea. But the others just smile knowingly.

It’s a long walk along the sand to the water. I get in to waist depth without resistance – these waves are no bigger than they looked from the rocks. But there is salty water around me and clear, clear air to breathe.

It’s just the two of us. She gets up on a wave or two. I turn the mini-mal to shore a few times but feel no surge and bite as the wavelets pass beneath me.

a long, disconsolate walk back…

I try a few more and then paddle further out. It’s not easy for her either but she’s making a few. I can feel the tide pushing in and I’m hoping.

But still nothing. I paddle across, parallel to the shore. The wind has picked up and gusts water into my face. It subsides after a while. I still have no thoughts of getting out.

After a while I see Alan, whom I met earlier on the shore. He’s a mature surfer and he’s making wave after wave after wave.

‘That board’s a little short for you,’ he says. Of course it’s not! says my ego. Silently, thank goodness. Alan picks off another wave. I paddle and flounder.

Eventually there are a few. But they are insipid and the ride is short. I’m now alone in this flat lake. Without resentment, I think of going in – it’s a long drive and I don’t want to be home too late.

The car park has cleared when I get in. It’s just me as I remove my wetsuit. I look out to the ocean, already I have forgotten the disappointment of today’s flat swell.

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