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To every time there is a season

By Staff | Jun 27, 2019

A strong swell hit Fort Point in San Francisco on the first day of spring.

In the sea, in the sky, and in space, spring is a season of transition. And this year, it became my season of transition.

Behind we leave winter’s brooding power. Cool days, colossal waves, churning seas, rain-soaked clouds, early darkness. My favorite time of year.

Ahead we anticipate summer’s languorous sunshine season. Simmering heat, family-friendly waves, glistening waters, blue skies, endless light. My wife’s favorite time of year.

The entire planet is in transition from March to June. The season begins with the vernal equinox on March 21, when sunlight falls equally on the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. This day officially marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

This year, on the Opening Day of Spring, I stood in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I was wrapped up in four millimeters of neoprene from head to toe, including booties and a hood. To my right was the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, North Beach, the City, and the Bay Bridge. In front of me was Marin County, Sausalito and the Great North. And to my left was the Big Blue, the Pacific Ocean. Container ships, pleasure yachts and oil rigs cruised in and out of the bay.

And surging underneath all of it was the Mighty Pacific. On this clear, crisp morning, the Northern Sea unloaded trains of swell onto Ocean Beach and funneled the energy into San Francisco Bay. The deepwater swell energy refracted and bent around the headland at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, and there was a sight to behold:

Towering walls of water rose high into the air and crashed into the base of the bridge. An open wall of water spun under the bridge and around the corner, creating a left point with a barrel, a vertical wave face and a long ride into the beach. As the wave crashes into an old Civil War Military Outpost, the spot is known as Fort Point.

My wife and daughter departed for a walk on the waterfront as I scampered into the ocean. I climbed around a chain link fence, darted around the base of the bridge and edged out onto a tiny beach facing the Big Ocean. I crashed through the pounding surf, gasping breathlessly at my chilly immersion in the wine-dark Pacific. A small, tight crew of wizened, grey-haired locals ran the Outer Peak. The current was vicious, as the tide had bottomed out and the whole Pacific Ocean was rushing into San Francisco Bay. I had to paddle full speed against the river current just to stay in place.

A set wave came my way. I paddled vigorously, jumped to my feet and rode that big, beautiful wave all the way under the towering bridge above me and into the bouldery beach. And then I took a big breath.

Because as the Earth was shifting, and as I responded with my feet and body to that dynamic wave, I could feel my life shifting.

My hanai father, Peter Hackstedde, had died the week before. I had taught him how to surf again after decades out of the water, and he loved it more than anything. I called him to tell him about the Golden Gate Session, but I only got his voicemail. My Winter Season with Peter was over, and I was crushed.

My sister was about to give birth to a beautiful baby girl – since born, healthy and happy! – and I was preparing for the coming season of being an uncle. My lifelong season with my niece was about to begin.

And my job was coming to an end as well. After nine interesting, joyful and important years working at Maui Preparatory Academy, this season was ending for me.

To every time there is a season, said the Byrds and the Bible. Turn, turn, turn. The changes keep coming, in the ocean, in the weather, in the solar system, in our lives. Spring is the season of transitions, and it’s coming to a close on June 21.

Now for the halcyon days of summer.