Noel

By Dusty Middleton

camping

 

I came back in the dark after the best day of surf. It was three feet of windswell piling up against a few feet of south groundswell. The waves weren’t huge, but the swell was pumping.
Noel had come over while I was out in the ocean. He’s somewhere between fifty and eighty years old. A classic local guy, couple teeth, super smart and quick, and a great, heartfelt laugh. He laughed plenty. The old man had told Stuart he’d bring him a good photograph to see.
And right when I came into the property, dripping wet and happy, Noel came up from the beach, 8×12 laminated photo in hand.
Stuart was just finishing his work, and Noel saw me and laughed and said, “Oh, there’s south swell today, oh boy, you get some waves? Lot’s of swell out there.”
I smiled, said it was good fun, and agreed there was some south swell getting in.
He let out a big chuckle, and said, “You got a little board, you must rip!”
Funny thing for an 80 year old to say, but astute.
I said the board felt a little too small, and I had been bounced off my first wave, showed him how I wiped out with one hand bouncing, and smashing, and said there was plenty energy out there.
He let out a big laugh and said, “Plenty energy… Plenty energy. I like that. Plenty energy. That’s good.”

I ended up talking story with Noel for a couple hours. He told me about growing up north of Makaha, and how a great grandfather had built this little fishpond.
The 8×12 laminated photo was old and weathered. It was nice, color shot with good light. Looking down on HonoUliWai from the Rock Point lookout. And there was just one structure about where the yellow house is now. Maybe it was the same house. There was one guy standing out in ankle deep water, about where the first makaha is, closest to the boat mooring. And everything else, besides the man, and the house, was green jungle. Bright sunny green jungle. Coconut trees and jungle.
The photo was over forty years old, and it had a magic to it.
Noel, I could tell, treasured it. And he saw himself as that guy standing in ankle deep water, and he lived in his own world where the land didn’t have a dozen houses in the valley, and cars and fences, and concrete, and satellite dishes and trashcans.

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