Thursday, March 24, 2011


Surfing has been breaking through our lives for the past seven years or so like a long long set, rolling in. L and I love the sea, as I have said before. One of the first times L went walking at Noordhoek with me and my two children, my little year old girl turned herself to the sea like an iron filing on paper. She stretched out her arms and propelled herself on sturdy chubby legs toward the waves, unfriendly as they are at Noordhoek. Crashing freezing sucking huge. We reset her on a straight course and she rotated again and again towards the foamy magnet.

Our son rode his first waves at Muizenberg while I sat huddled under a towel on the windswept beach, being sandblasted along with some other Moms with flasks of hot tea. L and I paced the shoreline and tried to spot him out at the back line. He was fearless at ten and would ignore our calls and time out hand signals.
JP's leg was taken by a Great White one blue day at Muizenberg just as we pulled out of the parking lot. We missed the sight of it all, the bloody foam, the horror of him on the beach, turning the colour of the sand as his life ran out - nearly.

It was hard to return to the sea after that. Gary from his surf shop on the Muizenberg strip led the children back. He did handstands on his board to lure them back to the fun of it. The sirens rang at every nervous sighting but they had always been there of cause. And are there still, and soon we were surfing under the warning flags flying and the shark spotters declared that from their high point they could see nothing, anyway.

We took a group of boys and boards to surf most Saturdays, and when they were done, they ate hot boerewors rolls that splattered fat over freezing fingers in the back seat of our Cruiser, with hoodies pulled low while their fringes dripped and they talked about waves. And the years passed, with L and me eating beachfront bistro breakfasts and befriending other surfing Moms and Dads. We waited for the children to come, shivering to us, so that we could warm them with hot chocolate and praise (yes we did see you on that was you..yes).

And when we left the Fairest Cape we missed that most - that view from Boyes Drive, of straight white lines on the endless streaky blue sea some days and the surfers (we called them sea lice from up there..)
Of cause L had been one of them a long time ago. I always say I have the photographs to prove it all - the combi, the girl, the dog, the long hair, the surfboard. Some his age are still out there on the waves, all crusty and craggy and still living the kiff life we sometimes dreamt of.

But now we find ourselves in the Garden Route, savouring the delights of Buffels Bay. A hidden place to us before now, that beach has opened up to us like an exposed secret. L and I, we walk almost all the way to Brenton some days, with the hard sand under our heels, and we peer into the high and dry jellyfish wobbling like misshapen crystal balls along the water mark.

Our girl is mostly surfing now, still turned as she was, to the waves. She crouches low and rides long sometimes. We watch them now from the big square deck there, sheltering under the canopy of umbrellas. Our boy hauls out the longboard and rides - still, lean and lazy to the shore.
We watch them as always and they come out and find us for their reward of steaming salty vinegary chips perhaps, or, with the sun beating down, a lime milkshake in a lime green retro glass like a vase.

Sometimes in the heat I grab a boogy board and head on down myself, to be pulled to shore by a foaming breaker. I no longer stay in long enough for the rhythm and rolling of the seas tugging to come back to me, at night before I fall asleep.
But dream I do, of stepping out into liquid, and riding.

1 comment:

  1. hey mich. Peter and I are becoming Michelle groupies. On our recent holiday, we did the cappuccino quest. We spoke of you and the joy you get from the simple things in life. We watched the 'cruisers' in their smart cars and commented how money cannot buy the enjoyment you guys get from your 'carpe diem' lives. Thanks for the inspiration. I must say that having a kindle added a kind of closet kugel feel to the whole vibe!