An Ode to Winter
Surf’s up. And so’s the moon
By Fritts Causby
The sky hung wet and low and dreary. A steady rain and a steely gray overcast blanketed our little city that day, Monday, the day of necessities. Had it not been for work or school or some other endeavor, staying home would have been a great idea. Going out meant dealing with the crowds and the traffic and the headaches in the middle of the consistent wind and rainfall.
In short, it wasn’t a day that you would see on a travel brochure. Or a day that would make you want to move here. It was not a postcard, or a day that would motivate someone from Raleigh to drive down and surf. It was one of those grind it out, head down, get-it-done-and-go-home type of days, where finding a little beauty in the chaos seemed harder than ever. Then it happened: The rain let up and the wind stopped blowing. I had been surfing beside the pier for about an hour, mostly by myself. The waves were consistent and fun, chest to shoulder high and chunky.
A rainbow came out and spread across the pier. A break in between the sets and time slowed down. I suddenly realized, “Wow, this is insane, it’s only getting better, this is beautiful, where is everyone?” It had been easy to park, there was nobody on the beach, and overall, it was a lonely, quiet scene. I had even moved the car after checking the surf, knowing that I wouldn’t have trouble finding a different spot. Traffic on the way to the island had also been virtually nonexistent.
I love wintertime. Yes, the water was 50 degrees that day. Yes, it was horrible and embarrassing struggling into my wetsuit (and out of my wetsuit) in public. The air was in the mid-50s, not too bad for southeast North Carolina in the wintertime, but the north wind that was cleaning up the surf made it feel so much colder.
What did it matter? Once I was sealed up in my neoprene cocoon and bobbing out in the lineup, the chill and the inconvenience of surfing in the wintertime seemed irrelevant. It was almost completely quiet, and here I was just sitting on my board, when a moment that made me stop dead in my tracks and realize how lucky I am to be alive had smacked me in the face. Feeling fortunate and grateful about the simplicity of who you are and what you are doing is essential to finding happiness.
The clouds disappeared along with the sun. A giant full moon was suddenly revealed, hovering just above the pier. The water turned a silky, silvery gray, an oil slick canvas underneath a bright, clear sky. To say the least, it was a surreal moment. With the moonlight and the artificial light from the pier working together, I was still able to see, so I stayed out for a few minutes. Who wouldn’t want to linger on for a while and try to record a fleeting moment in time like that?
To really slow down and enjoy life, it’s key to find breath and joy and calm in the little things. Surfing has given me a pathway to achieving that state of simplicity and happiness. Maybe if all of us had something like that in our lives, the vibe here on Planet Earth would be a tiny bit cooler, so if you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow, I wish I knew what that felt like,” get out there and find it. b
Fritts Causby is a long-term resident of the Wilmington area and the founder of WordAlly.com. A freelance writer for many years and a licensed Realtor, he is also an avid surfer, environmentalist and dad to Bridget.