18" X 36" oil on canvas
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My daughter Sarah, age 12, turns to catch one last wave for one last ride on her boogie board. It’s the end of another glorious day on South Chesterman Beach, near Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada.
We’ve come here for a week of sun and surf before school 2010 starts. She’s been in the water for hours, thanks to the good folks at O’Neill. The water here on the 49th parallel doesn’t get much warmer in the summer. A wetsuit is really a must for we serious, cowabunga surf dude-types.
When I was young, our family would come to the beaches here to camp in the summer – in the days before cheap neoprene. When you’re young, your zeal is often enough to keep you warm when swimming here. But reality does catch up eventually, and hypothermia can’t be denied. Thirty minutes was about all I could stand, and that usually came with shivers and a headache.
Back then, instead of swimming, we usually spent our time running in and out of the surf playing “Bully-Bully ... Olay,” a game we invented. My sister Caren and I would creep down the beach, taunting a retreating wave, chanting “bully-bully,” then turn and run back up the beach shouting “olay!” as the next wave broke and nipped at our heels. It was more fun than it sounds, especially if you misjudged a step.
When I was 15, I taught the game to my little sister, Jenny, who was three at the time. It wasn’t long before I had to wade out into the surf in my jeans and sneakers, to fish her, sobbing, out of a particularly fast wave that had managed to ‘bully-bully’ her, face first, into the sand. Mark Heine