Thursday morning, Newcomb Hollow Beach.
The ocean is doing what it always has; powerful waves are assaulting the shore, over and over again. The pounding of the water is preceded by the cresting of the waves. Surfers would sneer at their size, for sure, and locals wouldn’t be impressed, because they’ve surely seen bigger ones during hurricane season.
But I’m neither a surfer nor a local. I’m a tourist from the Midwest, spending a few days out East, in the hopes of girding myself for 50 more weeks back in the real world. The waves are plenty impressive to me. I’m actually heading out into them to have a closer look.
The water is frigid and salty. The temperature probably doesn’t change too much from season to season, and the salt is a constant. It wouldn’t be the ocean without it. Now I understand why an “old salt” is someone who’s spent his life on the sea.
The waves are off in the distance, forming along a line beyond the outer reaches of where I would tread. I’m standing on a sandy ridge, cheating a little bit, in order to put some distance between myself and the shore. But I’m on the ocean’s turf, no question about it.
When a wave forms and comes ashore, I can do a little hop and avoid the worst of it. It crests after it gets behind me, and then pummels the shore in short order. I’m content, for the moment, to wait for the right wave to come. I’ll know it when I see it.
After six or seven waves–but I’m not really counting them–I see the one I’m waiting for. It’s surging directly at me, and in three or four seconds it will be a thing of the past. But in this moment, it’s bringing all of the sound and force and fury that nature can conjure up. And I’m not afraid of it at all. In fact, I’m anticipating it, in a strange way. It’s coming right at me, and I’m ready for the rush that will accompany it.
I can see its approach, and my eyes widen for a split second. I gulp as much air into my lungs as I can, and point my hands in the direction of the wave. Pushing off against the sand and the rocks under my toes, I lunge forward into the surf and hope that it gives me all that it’s got…and I am not disappointed.