My love of the outdoors, my continuing fight against aging, and my stubborn, competitive streak led me to take up surfing in my forties. Lucky for me, Florida is a fabulous place to learn, beaches are sandy with no rocks and the water is warm most of the year.
I say most, as the winter these past two years has been especially unfriendly to us kooks out there. But if you would have told me two years ago I would willingly get up early on a weekend, put on a thick form-fitting rubber suit and get into chilly water, I would have asked what you were smoking.
Early hours, cold, damp Florida weather and chilly water were not completely foreign to me. My husband and I are avid fisherpeople, and he swears that the fish don’t bite, and the boat doesn’t run, unless you’re on the water before the sun comes up. However, there’s a huge difference between flying along on top of cold water and actually immersing yourself into it.
I also learned quickly that surfing is a highly addictive sport. One taste of standing atop a board riding a wave and I was hooked. Two boards purchases later, I began to feel guilty about missing a third of the year in the water while my hardier friends were out chasing waves.
So this fall I made my most important surfing acquisition, a wetsuit. Not just any wetsuit, a 4/3. Thicker–and warmer. With the addition of booties, I could brave the 50 to 60 degree water in comfort, if not necessarily in style. The booties are probably the most expensive footwear I’ve ever purchased, and also the most ugly. There’s nothing flattering about black rubber split-toe booties, but I wouldn’t trade them for ten pairs of summer sandals (and I do love my sandals).
Soon I will be able to shed the wetsuit, and those lovely booties, and enjoy warm sub-tropical water temps. I won’t miss falling off my board and the slap of cold water to the face. But I wouldn’t trade a thing.