Boarding

This warm and clear morning on the coast I see myriads of joggers running along the cliff path just north of town. I see quite a few small trucks with wave warriors unstrapping their surfboards from the roofs of the camper shells. They stretch into their wet suits and step down the stairs or jump off the cliffs to paddle out to the waves. Mid-April the waves are starting to become less consistent. Surfers know the best season is near end and go out of their way by getting up and on the water before sunrise to get a few rides at the beginning of the day.

The wealthy and the committed surfers will travel for waves, maybe Australia or South America, but most transition to other sports to keep up the adrenalin and muscle tone. I expect to see more paddlers, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders follow the contour of the coast, while small sail boats, windsurfers, and kite boarders venture out further on the bay and open sea when under the power of the north westerlies.

Surfing is supposedly the first board sport, from which all others have emerged, including kiting, skating, snow, and lord knows what other kinds of boards people stand on to have fun. For many of the young, it is such the cool way of life. Just the other day I saw a teenage boy go zipping through the main intersection of downtown Soquel on a long skate board, keeping up with the flow of the normally sluggish traffic. He wore baggy jeans, baseball hat flipped around backwards, too young for tattoos, holding an iPhone up to one ear, and just coasting along quite smoothly in such a relaxed stance that he looked as if he were sitting on an overstuffed couch. I could not skate through downtown and be so relaxed and inattentive in the midst of all this potential danger of congested traffic. I suppose for the young ones it is an admirable skill to be able to ride smoothly and gracefully when you are too young to drive. If I had better balance I would try, but I have lost much of my natural balance and could end up in a hospital emergency room.

I owned my first skate board when about fourteen years old. At that time, you could not buy one. The concept was new, and so I had to acquire about a foot-long length of two-by-four, an unwanted pair of used metal roller skates, and then remove the wheels and axles from the skates and nail them to the two-by-four. The sport was new, not widespread, and gave me something to do when there was no surf. In a few short years the concept exploded, and is now an entire subculture among the young. Who would know that what for me was a simple summertime preoccupation would turn into such a widely accepted sport. In some ways I am a little saddened that such a simple activity has been monetized, capitalized, exploited, commercialized, or whatever the correct verb might be. But then, I see the joy that skate boarders experience with their more fancy and better-built skate boards and skate board parks, helmets, T-shirts, and all the other fine accoutrements of the sport, and think that if I were younger now I would prefer this to the primitive skateboarding I did in early life.

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