Let there be no misunderstanding: it is cold. Even in the middle of summer, the water in San Diego remembers being in Alaska not so long ago. This is December. But because it is San Diego, the cold is not too terrible, and the sun cancels out the breeze, and besides, I am resolved to going in the water today. Last month I put my toes in Lake Eerie (because it was Lake Eerie in November, I quickly took them out again). I am hardly going to chicken out of this venture.
Still, I don't have the courage to just go running in. I walk out a few steps at a time and let the water take me by inches.
Each wave starts with a lifting of the horizon. The water stretches up, and up, until it couldn't possibly hold itself, and then, impossibly, it keeps growing, breathing in and up, reaching above my head before it collapses into a rush of foam. The best part is when I can catch it right at the moment when the first edge of white appears at the top of the wave, right before it turns from a solid wall into rubble. I am lifted, held, and then brought gently down again.