Friday, March 27, 2009

If everybody had an ocean...

With Sharon still in Canada, it's my job to keep everyone in the house busy and to try and maintain the routine as much as possible. And on Friday afternoons, that routine includes surfing lessons for our two youngest grommets.

It may be possible to spend time in Australia without going surfing, but you really can't ignore it when you're living on the Sunshine Coast. Surfing here is just part of the culture. It's like boating in Muskoka, or swearing at other drivers in Toronto: not everyone does it regularly, but everyone has done it at least once. If I'm going to write a book about our time here, I think surfing is going to have to be a part of it.

Every Friday afternoon, the Coolum Surfing School offers inexpensive group lessons for school kids. Isaiah and Charlotte have had a few lessons, and are starting to get quite accomplished. Charlotte, being our little water bug, is the most enthusiastic about it; Isaiah is drawing quite nicely on his snowboarding experience.

On Monday, Ana and I decided the time had come for us to get in on the act, so we took a lesson at the main beach in Noosa. And yes, I'll answer the question everyone asks about your first surf lesson: we stood up.

More than that, we had a blast. We were using big 9-foot boards, which are stable and forgiving, and even when we fell off we felt that we were really, really close to getting it right -- close enough that we just had to wade out and try it again. We didn't learn to surf on green waves, we spent more time in the water than on it, and after a couple of hours we were sore and tired. But every now and then we'd catch a wave just about right, get up on our feet for a few seconds, and feel the wave moving beneath us rather than moving over us. It was enough to convince both of us that surfing can be completely addictive. We were, as they say, stoked.

So now we're on the lookout for a board. If anyone's got an old Mal in the garage that they want to sell real cheap, or better yet that they would be willing to lend us for the year...

So far there's only one problem with surfing: I can't get the music out of my head. All week I've been alternating between the Beach Boys and the Ventures. I love them both, but it's starting to drive me crazy. I even feel glad when I get an 80s indie flashback and start hearing long-forgotten bands like punks The Forgotten Rebels (Surfin' on Heroin) or Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra (who defined Canada's take-it or leave-it approach to U.S. culture with the line "I don't like basketball or surfin', but Lord I do love bourbon.")

This afternoon, Isaiah decided to sit out the surf lesson and Ana took the school bus straight home. So I body boarded while Charlotte surfed. As the sun got lower and the gold tones became richer, I just knew I had to ditch the board and grab the camera. The shots don't do the light justice, but they give you a bit of an idea of how much fun we were having.

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