Dreaming in Blue

Surfing the Ranch with Dana Brown and "Wingnut" Weaver

Immediately a wave snapped up and Wingnut was off, riding it down the line all the way to the end—fluid, strong, graceful. Steven and I sat there in the horseshoe admiring his performance the way you do when it becomes clear that you're in the presence of greatness. Before we could even dig for a wave, Wingnut was back and in another. Jeezus, was that possible?

It was Dana's job to make sure nothing resembling a real wave passed us by. Steven gamely went after a couple, but the wave proved to be tricky for guys who are accustomed to beach breaks that come in straight and head directly for shore. I knew I couldn't just sit there on my board, not with Dana shouting everytime a wave approached, not with all the miles I'd traveled from Pittsburgh just to be here in this place, just to have a shot, even this late in life, at grace. How to get it?

I decided to shut off everything else and nottry to figure it out. I listened to the ocean and waited for my body to tell me what to do. Then, just as Wingnut was back at the break, I felt the swell bearing in on the reef. Nobody was saying, "Go!" but it felt like go. I turned and paddled into the wave as it jumped to attention, looking back to see it gaining on me. It felt like I was in the right place at the right time. As the wave grabbed and my board started to plane, I popped up and took off down the face and turned left, right into the heart of everything everyone had written or said about surfing and The Ranch. It was all coming true at once, and it was coming true for me.

When I got back out, Wingnut greeted me: "Nice wave! That was awesome!" "Picked it myself," I smiled proudly.

I'm sure if this was a fishing expedition and that wave was a fish, the guide would have told me to throw it back. But believe me, I took a picture. For a few moments I was back in the bubble, wrapped in grace, and I wanted to remember. The possibilities, it seemed, were limitless.

Dana Brown, director of photography John-Paul Beegly and many surfers fromStepping Into Liquid answer questions after the film's Oc premiere at Regency Lido Theater, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach, (949) 673-8351. Fri., 7:45 p.m. Call for tickets.
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