Living near the ocean is a blessing that can become so ordinary that we run the risk of taking it as a mundane and unacknowledged miracle. Having daily contact with the sight, smell and feel of the Pacific is cleansing, renewing and enlightening. Among the various modalities of interface that exist between us and the water surfing, (along with the various permutations thereof; body-boards, mats, kayaks, etc), is one of the most intimate. California surf culture embodies a tradition of design, innovation, aesthetics, lifestyle and fun that informs aspects of life for surfers and non-surfers alike. While I am by no means a skilled participant, I am proud to participate at the level I do. In recent years I have been drawn to surf mats and body boarding and for much of the year I have at least weekly contact with that wonderful water. A friend once described surfing as being not so much about riding water as riding an energy wavelength THROUGH the water. I like and respond to this description. There are few more visceral kicks as when you feel the lift and push of the wave taking over. We experience fleeting moments of dolphin grace beyond what our clumsy land dwelling bodies normally allow for. Of course there is the whole territorial/violent aspect of surfing which is a drag no matter how you slice it. Pushing that aside I find that the history, characters and pure elements of design are engrossing and enriching. I was recently up in San Clemente and Dana Point and found the the Noll family (Greg Noll being one of the seminal and most influential figures in surf history) have a new shop/gallery. They graciously let me take some shots of the beautifully wrought wooden boards they make and some of what has come to be one of the newest aspects of customization and artistic expression in board making, the fin. If you are interested in our shared California life and mythology and want to develop a richer understanding of the elements that we interact with and are surrounded by, surfing is a great place to begin. There are many layers of depth to the phrase, "Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world".
Customization is crucial
The fin has become a mini-canvas open to creative expression
Surf Icon Greg Noll is a pioneer