Pumpkin Moon


so it's not west meadow but it's to kinda set the mood for the drive home

Sunset at Stehli, October 2001 photo by phil gray
story by phil gray, photos by Charlie Kim and Phil Gray

  After the post session hot chocolate at Dunkin Donuts we rolled onto 25A going east and into the darkness. Around the first corner we saw it, the top of a huge gold disc in the sky, marbled with veins of royal purple blood. It couldn't be. We'd just seen the sun set in the west not 30 minutes ago. And we couldn't be seeing some photographic negative rising in Australia. No, we were in Stony Brook, NY, and this was a burnished Halloween moon d'oro in early winter. A dark blue-black head-shaped club of cloud rose in profile against the glowing orb. Lenny first, Domer, then I turned onto Nicholls Rd. and the great full pumpkin moon was gone behind the shouldering cloud. Heading south, one last trick of light tinged the cloudscape with the last possible spectrums of purple and blue and black, and it was over. The rest of the way headlights, music to taste, and thoughts of what had just been.

Dana and Lenny(?) cruising. Photo by Charlie Kim

  As I brought the smaller JP into the beach for some more floatation, Bolling was just derigging and heading home. His quota was done and his number called by some loud-hailer back Glen Cove way. Bolling had been getting further and further inside, with each wave ride downwind and getting out of the deepwater breaking swells and into the low tide ankle biters, too two dimensional he said. And for sure there were plenty of expanses of flatness Š that Chas Kim was exploiting shamelessly with his kitesurf equipment. Bu the wind by then was getting a little more fluctual and that meant some hard crash landings for the burly kiter. Nothing Chas Kim doesn't take in stride though.

With the new board I was able to work my way waay, waay upwind to rejoin Lenny and Domer. Much better, now I was cruising and the board and the 5.3 were in more harmony with the gusts and lulls. The sand bars were exposing themselves all over and you had to climb high upwind just to avoid the headplant territories. But it was worth it. So worth it. Port tack was all starboard jumping, plenty of it if you wanted Š or backside carves off the clean left breaking faces. At the start of the session, as I was putting on the drysuit, I'd seen two blokes get some super nice hang-time port ramp air. One of them was Bolling. The other looks like Bob Berger from the photo below.

Bob Berger, aerial dentist, tooth extractions best on port tack
photo by Charlie kim
I saw the people in the next car checking it out open-mouthed. I did a holler in the van to no one in particular. It was psyching stuff. I'll spare the details of the first foray grossly underpowered and schlogging. Bollocks to it. All was so much better after the board change. Up there in the top corner high, high, upwind, escaped from the ankle biters that snapped in the shallows, out where the water turned deep and dark and blue again. There, where the deep water met the outermost sand bars. There was the manna. Lenny, Domer and I seemed to find it at the same time. I'd always thought this place was questionable in a West at low tide. But the long hike upwind was producing some spectacular results in the high corner. You'd have needed a pirate's best telescope to see it Š I guess we were specks out there.
the Domer, heading up towards the high slot photo by Charlie Kim

Domer was charging down the hills coming in on starboard, like I'd seen Bolling doing a bit earlier when the tide was higher. The board and rider swinging in a gouged groove of whitewater, with the mast tip the top of the pendulum. It was hard to tell what was better --riding them in -- or slashing off the faces and going down the line on the way out. For me the best rides seemed to happen on the way out. With a head of steam built up, it was easier to line up the biggest swells, sheet-in and cutback right before the thing broke. One time I skirted the downslope just in front of the whitewater for what seemed like an age, until a shoulder appeared ready to jack for another cutback. Another time a clean wave that just kept breaking left, left, left, left, a nice chest high one that kept going, threatening to eat up all my headway in one shot. It was worth the extra effort to climb back afterward. Two nice clean head high faces are still imprinted on my retinas. How could this be? This wind direction, West, maybe even a little WSW at times, this combination, it doesn't happen very often. 'Cept for this last week. I'll happily forego the starboard jumps and stay sea-bound for wave rides like this.
And there was the time, well, domer was down, and there was this nice wave, and the convergence well Š in the wrong place. I can't remember much, I didnÕt get the turn off the wave, but there was just enough room to, well give Steve a ringside seat. (Hey Steve, remember dawn patrol with Bolling a few years ago when I took the a little too close up shot of your fin? Scared the coffee grinds out of me. Heh heh?) Yeah we were all pretty shot. The hand grip had gone early and just hooking in was a heroic effort. Jibes were almost a why bother proposition for me, but I got a couple of good ones to take home. But the swell juicing n the top corner. It was too good to stop.

pg and winter unimuscle. photo by Charlie Kim

Plans to be home by five went by the wayside, and six was looking more likely. Cold Š what frilly cold? The day had been lurking in the low twenties and had risen to 29 but was showing little sign of breaking 30. The first steps in, the cold sea found the worn holes on the crotch of the drysuit (nay steamer) and drove shard-like needles of icewater to the testes, but with a couple of runs, everything was back to normal, and we might just as well have been wearing boardies. Well except for the extra effort involved in rubber resistance. In a little while we were toasty, there was plenty to do. Domer and I exchanged a few comments as we changed tack on a sand bar here or there. It was pretty obvious we were both having the same good time. Lenny, who was only going to sail a half-hour, found what he needed in inspiration and relentlessly attacked every moving curve of liquid. "I've been to lot's of places, and that was world class, Don't let anyone tell you..." he said. Domer, Len, myself, the words awe and some were about all we could find. This morning I could hardly lift my body out of bed for the pain in my back, just rolling over was a delicate act that had kept me awake nearly all night. Trying to stand up straight was an exercise in gradualness. Aargh, how could I miss this day?!? I hadnÕt scored in a month, and now I was threatened to be laid out. I slapped on some Flexall 454 extra strength, some of mikedabakers TPR and chowed on enough breakfast to cushion the ravaging claws of two advil. I canÕt take that stuff anymore, but today, well, I'd have to bite the gelcaps and take whatever stomach pain they would dish out. Thank god the wind came up late and a few more slatherings of Flexall and it was time to hit the road. I stuffed the PFD down by my lower back and cranked the van over. The great glowing ball of the winter sun demanded sunglasses and gave hope that we'd not freeze out there. For a while with the van heater on it was like a summer windsurfing trip. But I can't remember too many days like this in summer.

that's your lot
photo by Charlie Kim