Clear skies have dominated a large part of the winter here in Northern California. And with clear skies, come freezing temperatures. A few days ago while sitting in my car waiting for the window to defrost enough so that I could drive I found myself wondering if I had completely lost my mind. Here I was in my car, frantically rubbing my hands together to keep warm. On the roof was a frozen kayak, and I was about to drive myself to the Lagoon for repeated dunkings in the icy cold water during my Saturday morning rolling practice.
Once at the lagoon I marveled at the water, which even looked cold. An oily appearance lined the surface, which is a clear indication of freezing temperatures. Surrounding the lagoon in the grass and shrubs was a thick layer of textured frost. But I got in my kayak, and went through the rolling list, taking breaks in between rolls to warm my fingers and nose. I was now thinking that everyone else had lost their minds. I was there alone, with the exception of a lone gray egret watching from a post and sharing the serenity. Even the usual river otters had gone into hiding.
The ocean also has plans for the winter months, and recent weeks have brought about some very long swell periods. Long swell periods often create a very peaceful environment offshore, and a paddler can marvel as the huge swells lift and lower then with gentle force. This same swell when it hits the beach or rocks however can create large, powerful waves and challenging rock garden conditions. Recent afternoons have provided steady wind, and some days it’s been easier to go for an afternoon hike in our surrounding redwood forest.
For Mark and I, December through February is our “off-season,” and we try to enjoy every minute of it. And even on those days when it seems totally crazy to go out on the water, we’re always glad we did.