Surfing Second Thoughts

It rained all night but the clouds cleared before sunrise. A soft, offshore breeze in the air dries the streets. There are a few lingering puddles that have nowhere to go but up over the next few days. The day has taken on that Technicolor look we get in Southern California when the sun shines after a rainy night. I’m at the Swami’s overlook. The swell, although a jumbled mess yesterday, has cleaned itself up nicely, offering some rippable walls. It’s uncrowded and head high…but I’m not sprinting to get changed.
My dad always gave me crap for surfing after it rained. As a grom I would jump in on the sauciest days without hesitation. It’s just rain water. How bad can it be? Pops wouldn’t let me surf. He figured it was my health I was jeopardizing and if I got sick, it would be my entire fault. Fortunately for him I never contracted anything life threatening. I don’t think I ever contracted much at all other than a few ear infections and some bacteria that put me face down in the dunny for a night. 
But my mindset has changed a little. After some education on the matter of non point source pollution, that’s a fancy way of saying run-off, these days I think about what I am surfing in. I don’t always abide by the rules. If it’s pumping and it just rained, the slightest twist of my arm will get me suited up, but the E. coli and coliform and fertilizers and insecticides and motor oil and metals and hepatitis are on my mind every duck dive. 
It is often forgotten, overlooked, disregarded and ignored in denial that our playground is dirty. Everything you see that goes down the gutter gets spit out down the line at someone’s local spot. And the visible stuff isn’t even the bad stuff. There is a whole world of microorganisms that thrive for the chance to get inside you and wreak havoc. 
So I stand there and watch another crap-colored set roll down the reef, hoping the wind will switch and blow it out. Deep down I know it won’t and deep down I know what I am going to do. And I can hear my dad say, “When you’re barfing up your insides, don’t come looking for sympathy from me you dumb-ass."
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