July 2010 home page


Paddle Out
Gus Kriege | 20th Street


Circle of Love: Tribute to Randy Strause. Photo Skip Shaputnic

We gathered on the beach, watching the sets, timing the lulls. The assortment of craft was as varied as the eclectic mix of participants. There were shiny new longboards and decrepit old ones damaged by years of neglect in backyards. There were boogie boards and even a few people with only a pair of swim goggles. The experienced surfers had their eye on the less confident members especially when a 5 foot set broke outside grinding toward the beach.

A signal was given and the group hit the water. It was not a contest. We were heading out to form a circle, to create a space to put a dearly beloved friend into the sea and guide his spirit to the great beyond. We held hands, bobbing out there in the surf, and passed containers of his ashes around, each person sprinkling a small amount. Then, in keeping with ancient Polynesian tradition, we splashed water up to the heavens to symbolize rain and its renewing qualities.

Flowers were cast; tears mixed their saltiness with the sea. The circle broke up as we paddled to the boat holding the family. With kisses and handshakes we capture the intensity of the moment, feeling humbled by the wide ocean and our own mortality. What else could we do, but catch a wave on the way in and hoot out loud for our friend.


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