Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers, whenever you encounter trials of all kinds, because you know that Written and Illustrated by the testing of your faith builds Matt Beard perseverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you will be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
othing about it was easy, even from the very start. Sharpening his carpenterâ€™s pencil, as he always did before tracing an outline on a fresh blank, his knife slipped a deep gash across his thumb. Blood dripped bright
red onto the snow white foam covered floor. After a makeshift bandage and a sip of warm beer, the shaper began the task of carefully bringing forth beauty from the blank, which oddly seemed to resist his every effort. He knew where he wanted this one to go and each skillful pass of the planer would reveal a little more of what he had in mind all along. He was in no hurry to finish this one. Slow and sure, that was his method, right on through the shaping and into the glassing where he laid on its deck, right across the wood stringer, these two words, printed in red, PURE JOY. He chuckled at the irony, but then again he knew that joy was a hard earned reward, not just a fleeting pleasure. He thought of how those two simple and easily misunderstood words would have their impact on each subsequent rider, flavoring their expectations and ultimately shaping their experience of this board.
do not know how many hands it passed through or how many disillusioned souls failed to connect with its lofty, laminated aim. Nor do I know how many of its multitude of dings were caused by the noble pursuit of its resin-coated
promise, or how many by simple disappointment, the abandonment of the dream, the banishment to the outer regions of futility, the suburban garage, from which rarely a dream is revived. The one thing I do know is that someone saw something in it long after its newness was lost to multiple flesh wounds of punctured, torn fiberglass and gouged foam. Perhaps those two words caught their heart in a blaze of catalyst…PURE JOY. And the sweet aroma of ding repair mingled with the musty odor of a garage full of good intentions.
III. GARBAGE DAY
ut either way or any other, the best intentions are no substitute for good craftsmanship, and as much as the sweet fragrance of bondo may smell like ding repair, it is not. The bondo soon shrank, exposing the thirsty core to
the elements once again. As fresh currents of saltwater flooded the foam and then dried out over months of imprisonment far from the sea, it was as if the essence of the dream was evaporating along with all that water. When the last drop had finally made its atmospheric escape it seemed that the dream had vanished, the hope was lost, and the revival was not to be. Now destined for the resting place of suburban ideals, out with the remains of tv dinners, the discarded packaging of new and improved dreams, and the lawn clippings from the edge of everymanâ€™s castle, the dream lay in wait for Monday morning.. garbage day.
IV. THE NECTAR
ack in the days when all our boards were way too narrow and thin, and with all that silly rocker, there was a board that lived in our living room, just for decoration I guess. These were the days when folks were still giving away
old longboards at garage sales, and anything else that wasn’t a close relative of the standard issue thrusters of the era was still considered a worthless scrap on the shaping room floor of progress. The resurgent interest in designs of the past may have just been budding but certainly had yet to blossom, and “retro” was still an unspeakably dirty word just because it was overdumb, not because it was overdone. This board in particular was one of those deep swallow tail downrailer 70’s era single fins. It was light blue and though it did have a few dings, some quite large, they had all been very properly fixed. It was called the nectar. It just sat over in the corner, unwaxed, and wedged between some houseplants and a bookshelf full of old books that nobody ever read. Nobody ever rode that board either. Never. No readin’, no ridin’, no nuthin’.
ne summer day when all we did was eat blackberry pie and take naps and nothing too seriously, I just felt too lazy to ride my little tater chip, so I took out that old blue single fin. Changed my surfing life, no joke. I had so much
fun I completely stopped riding any other boards. I rode that thing everywhere. I distinctly remember the shooting pains in my arm from carrying that board on a five hour hike in search of a good wave. My fingers were just barely able to reach around the rail causing quite a strain. I would have strapped it to the pack, but the last time I tried that trick, the cord snapped loose and knocked my front tooth out. I still look for it every time I pass by the creek where I lost it. The waves we rode on that nerve stretching strong-arm trip were worth every bit of the trouble though and I was just stoked to have that board out there in the some of the best surf Iâ€™d ever seen.
here was a bunch of us out there on that trip. One afternoon, I had hiked way up a hill to get a good view of the place. Iâ€™d just sat down to catch my breath when I noticed the wind had done that turn-around-and-blow-out- of-the-
canyon thing and was now grooming the swell to perfection. I scrambled and slid down that hill as quick as I could. When I reached the camp, I was all jazzed to get in the water but something was wrong. At my feet lay that old blue single fin, well at least the nose of it anyway. The mid section was a few feet away, and the tail was propped up down at the end of the log. My friend James had taken the board out. The story I was told is that his first wave was really good as he pulled into two solid cover ups on a screaming overhead wall. Feeling good about the board, he faded pretty deep on his next one and as he came around the corner the lip just clipped the tail. One big explosion and a long rocky swim followed. I remember figuring that it was an appropriate end to such a magical board, under the feet of such a talented surfer on such an amazing wave.
VII. GARBAGE DAY (revisited)
saw it out of the corner of my eye while on my way home from visiting some family in the Big City. I couldnâ€™t believe my good fortune. Pulling over immediately, I knew this board was put there just for me. It was only weeks
after the painful loss of my beloved blue single-fin, and here I was now holding another single-fin from the same era over some trash cans in a Big City suburb. It had certainly seen better days. It was all patched with bondo which had shrank and cracked. It was terribly lumpy with way too much exposed brown foam for its own good. It was no wonder someone decided to throw it away, this was years and years before these boards were even slightly appreciated. But on the deck of this green relic were these two words, in a bright red block letters, PURE JOY. As soon as I had read those words, I believed them. And with those words in my mind and that board in my van, I headed for home.
VIII. ONE MEMORABLE SESSION
still remember my first session on the that board. On the long trip home from the Big City, Iâ€™d stopped in a little town called Santa Cruz to visit some old friends. We checked that rocky lumpy right-hander at the very top of Pleasure
Point, the one just up the point from sewers. It was about as good as they had ever seen it out there. A clean swell was hitting the rock ledge there just right. I was admittedly under the spell of the PURE JOY at this point. It was crowded, rocky, and unfamiliar, and I had just found the board and had no leash, but I still couldnâ€™t get out there quick enough. I never lost the board once during that session. It was twelve years ago and I still vividly remember the kelp and the boils and the sets feathering on the outside, but the truly odd thing about it all is that is the last time I ever remember seeing or riding that board.
IX. BROKEN AGAIN
round this time a bunch of the guys were trying their hands at shaping their own boards. One of them got me involved and pretty soon I was shaping one of my own in the shed behind the house where Scott Ross was living.
It was a weird little concave round nose swallow tail single fin. That goofy little board kept me entertained for a good couple of years. I remember a distinct sense of completion to some cosmic circle while riding a board Iâ€™d made with my own two hands out at the place where my beloved blue single fin had ridden its last wave. I rode that board through the years when we all started getting married and making babies, or just making babies, or just making fun of our friends making babies. Ten years passed. Then I heard the news that Scott had ridden his last wave. I saw his little girl on the boat when they scattered his ashes. She looked like she was just waiting for this all to be over so she could go home and play with daddy. I thought of my own little girl as I sat in the water and took it all in. One hundred broken hearts drifting in silence on an emerald sea.
X. OUT OF THE ASHES
hile the tears still fell on the remains of last night’s fires, I still half expected Scott to come walking out from the trees, face all beaming with surprise at having stumbled upon this gathering of so many old friends.
His memorial really was a beautiful thing. While we each carried the loss in our own way, it was an uplifting time of reconnecting with old friends. I hadn’t seen James for quite awhile. I’m sure the old nectar and its last ride were on his mind when his eyes lit up to tell me about a board he’d hiked out to that same spot and stashed in the bushes. It was an old green single-fin. PURE JOY. As it turned out, it was rescued from yet another rejection, an unwanted end of the day garage-sale giveaway, still full of ugly bondo non-fixed split open dings. When James passed by and read those two simple words, out of the ashes, a new life was born for the old green single fin.
XI. PURE JOY
rough map was sketched out with crayola markers on the back of a page full of child’s doodling. With it I embarked on a solo trip into the wilderness. On my second attempt at deciphering the map’s imagery (I think I was looking
at the kid’s doodles the first time around), I found what I’d come for. Looking as though the bears had chewed on it a bit, it was still pretty banged up. But on closer inspection it was clear that someone finally reversed the dishonor and properly fixed those bondo dings. Thank you, James. Riding a very fun summertime south swell at the mouth of a nearby creek with not a soul in sight from sunup to sundown, I revel in the PURE JOY of it all. As I think of this board that was taken out here by a surfer of remarkable ability and thereby designating it his board of choice for a perfect wave, I ponder the poetry. The board that nobody wanted, yet given the highest honor. Somewhere off in a busy shaping room, the shaper stands covered in clouds of foam dust. After one final pass, he is finished. He steps outside and cracks open a cold beer. He drinks deep and knowingly smiles even deeper.
pecial thanks to James and Hugh, who after learning of the true story behind this board promptly marched through the poison oak to retrieve it from its hiding place. They brought it back and had it beautifully fixed up and restored.
And the dream lives on..