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How many people are lucky enough to be off on a bright Tuesday in November he thought to himself as he crested the ridge and got his first glimpse of the wild Atlantic stretched out as far as the eye could see. He had been edging over a mountain pass just below the cloud line when all of a sudden the most panoramic view of ocean, cliff and sky appeared. His breath caught for just a second as he took in the magnificence that lay before him.

"This is what eagles must feel like," he whispered to himself as he took in the Islands in the distance, white lines of waves so tiny, breaking on the sliver of golden shores miles below. The patchwork of fields sweeping up the valley buttressing the dark grey cliffs of limestone sweeping past his van and into the clouds above.

The battered VW camper puttered happily down the four in one incline, snaking its way about boulders and waterfalls in graceful loops, dropping away dramatically until the road vanished into the tree line. Once the distraction of Gods personal view was removed the surfer felt his foot press the accelerator with eager impatience. The hidden cove he had been sworn to secrecy over was within his grasp. Pristine un-ridden waves waiting to be carved up under the fins of his surfboard. Each second seemed a hour, every foot a mile as he inched closer to the surfers dream, a personal paradise of perfect breaking waves hidden from the rest of the world, reserved only for him.

At last descending out of the clouds along a Bohereen he was forced to park nearly a mile from the beach. For those not from Ireland - a road is called a Boher, a path where two cows can pass while coming in opposite directions, a Bohereene is where there is only room for one cow. The road leading to the secret beach was a Bohereene for sure. Branches and briar's scraped both sides of the small VW camper for a long time, in the end even this petered out. The surfer was forced to pull his trendy unit to a stop in a paddock, making the last part of the journey on foot across sand dunes and pebble beach.

At last he stood on the promised land, looking out over huge glassy waves forced to die a virgin death upon  the un-relenting shore without ever knowing the caress of a surfers fin, such a finish was a travesty for a wave as perfect as these. Zipping himself into his rubber cocoon the surfer had his first twinge of doubt. From here the waves looked substantial which he knew would be magnified many fold when he got out in the grip of them. The question was not could he ride them but could he get past them. Wrapping the Velcro cuff about his leg he sprinted into the ice cold of the winter Atlantic swell. His board skimmed the surface of the foaming white water with ease,  soon he was powering out into the oncoming waves with powerful strokes. Each swell lined up but pausing before breaking just long enough to let the lone surfer pass before plunging to its death on the sloping banks of sand rising to greet them.

Stroke after stroke the surfer felt himself make progress against the massive swell.  Soon the feel of the water changed, the colour darkened from foam flecked grey to dark brooding green. The surfer could feel the chill of the deep under his board he had paddled far enough. Sitting up he began watching for the set to carry him back from whence he came. Wave after wave marched on him, but none broke, after what seemed like minutes he began to feel something strange. He waves were getting smaller not bigger, at last he turned and searched for the beach but it was gone, as were the field where the camper had been parked, the only land in sight was the upper reaches of the hills he had so carefully navigated earlier. At once he knew he was in the grip of a rip.

Despite his experience he did just what he should not do, the surfer turned and paddled franticly for the shore. Each stroke sapping vital strength, each minute the flow of water was carrying him further from land. The ocean had discarded all the heat it gathered from the warmth of the sun baked soil, it was cold as the grave, so very cold. Layers of protective rubber could not stop the fingers of icy water probing his skin robbing the surfer of his most precious resource - heat. Soon the shakes began, gathering speed and strength they rippled through his body, running from shoulders to feet, racking his body in agony but the fear was overriding and he battled on. It did not take long for the spasms to subside and the most amazing thing to begin, acceptance.


Lying on the board, cold and dying the surfer understood what was coming, accepting it without question or fear. All he ever considered important slipped away, euphoria engulfed him with warming hands. He slipped from his board resting in the undulating bed that was the great ocean. From the depths the shadows condensed forming shapes and bodies, they danced too him from the seat of King Neptune welcoming him into their kingdom. Without fear or sadness the surfer surrendered, pulling the Velcro clasp from his leg with the last remaining strength in his fingers, he accepted the final embrace of his one true home for now and for ever.

 


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