Fade: A Surfing Poem

Dewey Weber, 1964

Fade by Philip Scott Wikel

A Surfing Poem


knowing the wave

so well as

to turn left

and fade

on a right breaking face




drop knee turn

in the trough

and pulling the rail high

and toward trim,

a clean line

and a rocket sleigh ride through the section




the elasticity of a rubber band and

the distance it can stretch

before it breaks




the elasticity of life

and pushing

‘til you know


and when

to pull the rail toward perfect trim


Coming Home to Maui

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-1-55-30-pmComing Home to Maui

Talking Story with Philip Scott Wikel

“On a white sandy beach in Hawaii”

– Braddah IZ

We’re coming home to Maui; I you, he, she, they and us.

Most importantly the Born and Raised are coming home to a new vision of Maui. A new vision much like the one held by the Kanaka Maoli ancestors; an independent Maui only interdependent with the greater Hawai’i Nei.

 This would be a new/old Maui that grows, hunts, fishes and herds and ultimately feeds its own; a sustainable Maui. This Maui won’t need barges from the US, diesel fuel for electricity or a cultural identity defined by a foreign culture.

 These people have reawakened (or perhaps have just been silenced) to following Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono. Remember: The missionaries once outlawed the hula surfing and the Hawaiian language. Successive generations of foreigners have sought to outlaw being Hawaiian at all. They also bought up land faster than the Kanakas could say “this isn’t right.”

 The Kanaka Maoli and the Born and Raised are not an exclusive group. They seek to be inclusive. All who love Maui and the “Aina, those who wish to steward and nurture her, heal her and bring her home as we all learn to share her.

 Many are returning to Maui from far away. One time tourists who had a love at first sight, travelers of the world who found “none bettah,” water folks, fisherman, farmers, and so on. Those who still believe it is their kuleana to contribute to Maui’s well-being in a myriad of ways: Spreading Aloha, nurturing the soil, cleaning up the ocean, cultivating community and envisioning Maui as a beautiful microcosm and model of sustainability for the world.

 Within these folks are those who’ve chosen to turn their backs on the US and the nine to five grind; the feeling that their lives had become “just doing time.” They spend their days on the beaches keeping them clean while scratching out a subsistence living. These are happy people free of social and societal limitations and restrictions. They’re quick to throw a shaka, share a meal, talk story or offer kind words that deepen the meaning of Aloha with every word and actions.

 Kanakas, tourists, travelers, shore casters and farmers. The tourists who get it, travelers who’ve felt no choice but to come back to Maui No Ka Oi, shore casters who’ve fed us for millenia; whose meditative and essential work inspires a closeness to the ocean and reminds us to relax, take the time to do it right, and smile knowing your home is one of the very best. Farmers new and old will now work toward healing Maui of the cancer of sugar cane, replant with things we need, and take the long view toward the Seventh Generation.

 All and all this can be seen as a divine collaboration, the composition of a new symphony, a song that will be easily sung without effort as we tread lightly into the future.

 A Hui Ho!

A Child’s Christmas in New England by Philip Scott Wikel


Hi Folks,

I hope this post finds you and yours well and celebrating the season in whichever way your tradition dictates. Whether its Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, Solstice or Sadeh, Christmas or Pancha Ganapti, I wish you all the best.

Following is my version of the Winter Tradition; at least as it was when I was a child. Ours, my family’s and mine, was one steeped in the Christian and Secular Tradition. Informed by the Christian Bible and embellished with the story of Old Saint Nick, we observed the birth of Christ and the Spirit of Giving embodied in Santa.

I hope you will enjoy this little story of mine and I also hope you will enjoy the company of good friends and family at this magical time of year. “Magical” in that, for many, all differences are set aside and an overarching sense of togetherness and good will are the markers of these days.

So without further ado, here is my A Child’s Christmas in New England (or somewhere thereabout), inspired by my favorite poet Dylan Thomas who decades ago wrote his A Child’s Christmas in Wales and for who I named my son.

Mele Kalikimaka! Slainte! Merry Christmas! Le’chayim! Matunda ya kwanza! Feliz Navidad! Etc! Etc!

A Child’s Christmas in New England by Philip Scott Wikel

(Video At Bottom of Page)

One Christmas was never quite like the other in those years in upstate New York, nearby the black dirt and the pines and Sugar Loaf Mountain all covered since Thanksgiving with a healthy velvet of white; slick, crisp and slippery (depending upon the time of day, night or clouds, and angles of the sun).

One Christmas was never quite like another, but all, from the morning of my eyes to the time when this snow-packed, snow-suited, frost-bit and chapped-lip boy went bounding toward the adulthood that swallows us; left as such to wish for the simple truth of a greyish-yellow snowbound sky, and snowflakes that gave chase and cooled the tips of tongues.

And then there was the radio that gave us the freedom of a snow day:

“Following are the school closings for the greater Middletown area…”

“That’s mine,” said little Philip, squealing with glee.

“Quiet! I want to hear mine,” said Chris, the big brother, chomping at his bit.

“Quiet both of you,” said Carol, the sister sandwiched between two boys and wishing at least one was a sister.

“Breakfast is ready,” mom yelled from the kitchen.

Dad was off climbing poles restoring salvation to the phoneless, cut off by the crack of swirling winds with the intermittently gloved fingers to saving the hands that made us and brought home the turkeys and hams and the makings of egg nog, nutmeg and spice. Trudging in snow, cerrelled and scarfed, he strode like Gawain or Arthur and breathed deep draughts of freezing ether and blasted forth great clouds of short-lived warmth that fought with the air like messianic gospels, swallowed but never digested. His fight was alone in the cold, while we fought each other down the stairs that led to breakfast and a snow day on the edge of a Christmas vacation; two glorious weeks sans schoolbooks with unfettered sledding and ice-skating on the pond turned silver and soft where the seven year wreck sunk slowly in the ice-covered muddy banks and forgot about the factory. The brick factory and all its industry now defunct, but red and lettered forever in the walls of my school and every home that rose from its opening to its closing, decades later; its oral history a tradition known only by the few who dabble in trivia of livings and lives once lead.

Seven days ‘til Christmas,” exclaimed Philip, “better get this letter to Santa, who’s coming?”

The mailbox was just around the corner but, breakfasted and warm and snug in their snow day, the brother and sister couldn’t be bothered.

Perhaps I’ll see Mike McGar, he thought, and his guns and souvenirs from WWII or Mario and eat lasagna or Punky and his seven sisters or maybe still I’ll see Kevin and the whole of the Foley clan and they’ll invite me for egg nog and games and staying up all night if we can.

The days blend then, one to the other, and the clarity is in the coming, and Santa and drummer boys in the whistling wind of carol-singing strollers, mufflered, mittened, and smitten with the instance of meeting a thankful face and regular requests for more.

“Should we shovel driveways? Old Mr. Deanotoris might slip and fall,” said Philip.

“He pays good too,” replied Chris, well on his way to becoming an accountant.

“You’re like Ebenezer.”

“No, I just know what makes things go ‘round… come on little man, I’ll split it with you.”

Each driveway seemed to say something about the occupants of the house. This one had two strips of cement and one must be careful to keep on the track, and, at the same time, in spring they had more places for grass to grow. Another was blacktop and potholed and it might be said these folks could scarcely afford our labors and it was Christmas spirit that gave them to open their purses to two boys of seven and eleven. The Fancher’s house was a grail of sorts, and shiny. Ms. Fancher, the “lollipop lady” in summer, had a park named for her and the icicles that hung from her long porch glistened like silver corinthian columns and we’d get five dollars for just the walk, and tipped with candy canes for the family.

“You boys be good now, Santa’s watching, and be good to your mother and father,” she’d say as we left now moving to the far reaches of a tundra which seemed to encompass the known world. Brother would tell then of Jack London in the Yukon and cutting dogs open to keep your hands warm and I’d be glad that home was just a block away and that we hadn’t a dog for brother to butcher.

8 Prospect Ave. Middletown, NY

Flour, sugar, water, ginger, oil, baking soda, salt.

Dry stuff first, then wet; mixed in a Pyrex bowl.

Knead it,

roll it,

cut it (allowing for windows and doors)

then bake it.

White frosting mortar,

red & green M&M’s,

peppermint candies and red hots.

The kitchen is filled with the heavy scent of gingerbread.

“Now don’t eat too much of the icing, it’ll make you sick and rot your teeth.”

“Ok mom, but my stomach already hurts.”

“Drink some club soda. And Carol, can you hand me the icer.”

A classic “Saltbox” blueprint pressed in the pages of a 1962 Betty Crocker cookbook. The instructions written in a hand long since passed on.

“It’s important to get the first two walls together straight and strong.”

“Here mom, I’ll hold’em.” says the little boy.

“Thank you Philip, and Carol, can you get me a wet towel.”

Mom breathes heavily through her mouth, though her lips are close together. The air makes almost a whistling sound and Philip thinks how like music or the sound of the wind it is. Mom is copying the weather outside he thinks. Jack Frost north winds blowing across the continent and threatening to collapse the gingerbread walls. The weather sent dad out on overtime, fixing phone lines.

Her thumb struggles against the icer and turns red in places and flushes to white in others and the pressure looks to Philip as if it might hurt.

“Hard to push that thing down Mom?”

“Yes, but I’ve got it. It shouldn’t come out too fast or too slow. Do you want to try it?”

“You better do this first part mom. I’ll try on the next one.”

“Ok, hold the two walls up and steady.”

Philip holds the walls up and hopes his hands won’t shake or wobble. He feels his shoulder muscles tighten and his fingers tense. He starts to breathe like his mother and now he’s Jack Frost.

“Steady,” says mom.

“I’m trying,” says Philip.

Mom squirts the icing all the down the length of the walls where they make a corner together. “Ok,” she says and motions for Philip to let go. Mom then wiggles the walls so they fit tightly.

“Hold’em again, please.”

She squirts more icing on the inside and the outside of the walls and leans and takes a long satisfying breath.

“You guys want to go out and play now? This is going to take a while to dry.”

“I’ll get my sled.” says Philip.

“Your big brother should be down by the pond. Get your warm jackets on and I’ll see you in about an hour.”

Sister Carol has the watch and Philip admires that she will be the one to know when it’s time to come back. Out through the back door, the ground crunches under their feet with Philip nearly falling as he walked down the back steps. There is a layer of ice under a couple inches of snow and his rubber boots can’t find friction.

“Hurry up you little poop,” his sister says.

“It’s icy,” says Philip.

“Well step down hard like me.” Carol steps down hard and Philip sees that her footsteps are deep and the ridges around her footsteps serve as support walls for her boots. They don’t slip and she strides like an eskimo around the back of the garage and into Mr. Van Leuven’s yard.

“D’ya think we could toboggan Mr. Van Leuven’s yard?” Philip asks.

“Not steep enough,” Carol replies.

They trudge through the open space of the yard. The snow is deeper there in the open space away from the trees and it threatens to sneak into their boots. Philip keeps his head down watching for it to do so and runs head first into his sister.

“What’re you doing?” he asks.

‘My underwear is crawling up my butt,” she says, adjusting the seat of her pants.

“You’ve got a wedgie,” Philip says smiling.

“Shut up you little poop.” Carol says.

At the guard rail where [Washington] street turns and goes down they drag their sleds around the end of the rail and look for signs of their brother and other kids. Their breath is like pipe smoke and Philip thinks how it looks like they’re a couple of Godzillas about to burn each other.

“I’m Godzilla,” he says and rushes at his sister, “Rarrrrrr.”

“Get away you little dork.”

“Stop calling me names or I’ll tell mom.”

“I’m sorry,” she replies smiling, “you little dork.”

“How’d you like it?” he says.

“All right, I’m sorry.”

“I’m going first.” he says and jumps in front of his sister. The trail is steep but smooth. In summer it’s strewn with craggy rocks and divots but the ice has filled it in and Philip flies like an Olympic luge racer on a Yankee Clipper. He negotiates the twists and turns with grace, ducking beneath “sticker” bushes as he nearly derails a couple of times, then slows to the opening of the woods, where he grabs the sled’s “leash” and begins to drag it toward the pond.

He looks up at the hills which they call the pines and is projected in his mind along the dusted treetops and imagines himself again as Jack Frost; this time flying and blowing the snow into little tornadoes. The pines are his Sherwood or Black Forest and he situates himself among them as some claymation figure from the Christmas shows on TV.

Carol comes sliding in behind him, red-faced and smiling.

“The trail’s perfect huh?” he says.

“Yeah that was a good run.”

The two continue walking toward the pond.

“Can I drag your sled for ya,” asks Philip.

“I’ve got it, thanks.”

“How do ya think the gingerbread’s doing?”

“We’ve got a little time.”

“I love you sis.”

“I love you too.”

The two would be grounded together soon after and it was because they loved each other that it would be ok.

Snowmen rolled in spheres that revealed the green of grass beneath and, stacked in threes we endeavored to emulate the likes of which we’d seen on TV with Rudolph and Hermy, Silver and Gold, Yukon Cornelius and Heat Miser, the story of Jesus and Nestor the long-eared donkey, an ugly-duckling made blesséd in the great act of carrying divinely chosen mothers.

In the evenings when dad returned from Siberian drifts and pole-high wind-chills we huddled on an itchy couch and wound ourselves for a concert of five voices in the firelight, Mitch Miller songbooks chocked with chestnuts roasting, winter wonderlands and Merry Gentleman resting with the chiming of silver bells and memories of our grandparents in Yonkers and the clean streets of Manhattan made glorious with garlands and “Chock full of nuts” cups of coffee and hot chocolate with peppermints, the buildings lit like candies dancing toward a sky that reached for the convening of Santas race around the world.

John Denver shared Aspenglow and taught us the beauty of a cowboy’s Christmas, myself riding a black beauty in the heart of plains with thanks given to the stars that cities never see. And I would imagine his Zachary as me and think dad would have sung this to me if song had been his life. Talk then turns to the wooded journey for our tree and me pretending I’m Tiny Tim and finding a pine branch to use as a crutch.

And in the end the scene descends to a baby in the manger placed by my mother with loving insistence and a wish for another year filled with love and hardships overcome.

Children asleep, parents take the last minutes of this silent night to assemble that which Santa hadn’t time then settle in for a few hours rest and the best day of the year when all will rise to the birth of Christ and open the gifts given in His honor.

Green Surfing: Surf Schools and the “Shock of the New”

City Beach Groyne, Photo by Jase Riseborough, Australia, www.surf-forecast.com
City Beach Groyne, Photo by Jase Riseborough, Australia, http://www.surf-forecast.com

Green Surfing: Surf Schools and the “Shock of the New”

by Philip Scott Wikel (Originally published in 2004 but still quite relevant)

We are young despite the years,

we are concerned,

we are hope despite the times.

— From “These Days” on the Lifes Rich Pageant Album by R.E.M.

Surfing is one of the greatest contradictions unto itself one might ever attempt to embrace. In our quest to commune with nature and purify ourselves of all that we find negative and otherwise distressing about the world, we strap on watercraft and don wetsuits made of some of the most toxic chemicals ever produced. Never mind the wax. Where is the final redemption in this? Is it enough that we feel more clear, generally better and more focused after we surf and are able to re-enter the world in “the right space” and therefore raise the positive vibration of the collective? Or is it that it just doesn’t matter anymore and we might as well have a good time and make money while we can still breathe and the water is still at “acceptable levels” of toxicity that we might justify paddling out? Is it time to send in the clowns?

Like them or not surf schools, especially those with comprehensive camps, might be the most powerful means to turn the current tide of things and move away from the contradiction. Those running the camps say that all of the folks they work with would have otherwise found their way into the sport. This I think is debatable and nearly impossible to verify. I agree that the more people who experience the joy of surfing the better. I’d even go so far as to say if the Middle East had consistently good surf there would likely be fewer problems there. But, at the same time, we are, as a tribe, responsible for fueling the destruction of the earth at a disproportionate level when compared with many other sports or past-times. (A quiver of surfboards and a collection of wetsuits to cover the seasons represent a far larger impact on the environment than a skateboard, a pair of rollerblades, or a soccer ball).

If you’re willing to accept that surf schools are the door through which most new surfers are finding their way into the water, then you might say that surf schools like Chip Bell’s Surfclass are the best case scenario in terms of providing an education in the full scope of the surfing experience. What Chip and his instructors do might have the power to help us pay down our environmental deficit. Since Chip’s regular job is the position of receptionist at Patagonia’s corporate office, the core of their teaching is derived from the core values of the Patagonia clothing enterprise; innovation, reduction of waste, environmental stewardship (which includes a voluntary payment of an earth tax equal to 1% of sales), and quality. Chip feels it’s most important to teach his students “to take care of what they love.” His camps cover things like tidal fluctuations, beach conditions, weather patterns, surf culture, what it means to be a true waterman, and most importantly that the simple act of picking up a piece of trash has great power. Chip’s Surfclass had 400 students this past summer, 75% of which were beginners. And being that they’re, not what Chip calls a “stand up, pay up” school, a large number of well-versed surfers entered the lineup. Parents please choose well and find a school similar to Surfclass.

Continue reading “Green Surfing: Surf Schools and the “Shock of the New””

Academia and Surfing

Academia and Surfing

Although tens of thousands of recreational surfers have enrolled in colleges and universities over the decades, and coastal-area college surf teams and clubs have been around since the mid-1960s, surfing and the academy have had little effect on each other, and connections between the two are still for the most part regarded as novel, quirky, or gently amusing. Just a small number of well-known surfers have earned graduate degrees of one kind or another, including Ricky Grigg (Ph.D., oceanography, Scripps Institution, 1970), Peter Cole (M.S., informational sciences, University of Hawaii, 1971), and Sarah Gerhardt (Pd.D, physical chemistry, UC Santa Cruz, 2003).

The number of first-rate academics who also surf is proportionally small, and includes Kary Mullis, a San Diego longboarder and 1994 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry; the late Donald Cram, another San Diego surfer, who earned his chemistry Nobel in 1987; and Garrett Lisi, yet another San Diegan, and the brains behind the physics-based “Theory of Everything.” It is estimated, meanwhile, that between one-third and one-half of the world pro tour’s top 44 surfers in any given season are high school dropouts.

Continued: http://encyclopediaofsurfing.com/entries/academia-and-surfing

An excerpt from “Touching Eternity” by Philip Scott Wikel

golden-thoreau-quote-inspirationAn excerpt from “Touching Eternity” by Philip Scott Wikel

…the peak moments I’ve found in surfing are almost identical to those I find in writing and even sometimes when going for a bike ride. There are moments when you lose yourself, time stands still, and you’re more alive and in tune than you ever thought possible. It’s these “gone” moments that I crave. The first time I remember feeling this was when I lived on the island of Maui and surfing a spot called “Lanes.” The waves were well overhead and the swell was growing with each new set. I dropped in on a left-hander (right foot forward and facing the wave) and was swallowed entirely by water. I slowly moved back into this tropical blue vortex, my hands extended out to either side of me, and, at some point, lost all consciousness of everything. The wave spit me out a few moments later and I was back to reality. Some say the cause of is this just a rush of adrenaline, but I believe it’s more than that. It’s a moment when time and space seem to have no end and no beginning. It’s as if you’ve become one with eternity and are connected so powerfully to your present-ness in the world that all else ceases to exist. You are free from your earth-bound self and are, again, literally, in the flow; that indefinable, most times elusive, connectedness that we all wish we could inhabit forever.

The “I Want To Live” Foundation: One Small Step for Keiki-kind?

The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.  - Jacques Yves Cousteau
The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat. – Jacques Yves Cousteau (Seen here with John Denver c.1976)

As part of the mission of Mauisalt I want to introduce the idea of introducing those less fortunate than ourselves to the sea. My idea is simple: Everyone’s world is widened by experiencing the depths and mysteries of the ocean. As a child I was fascinated by “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.” It was, in large part, because of Mr. Cousteau that I was inspired to study Marine Biology in college, became involved with the Surfrider Foundation and Greenpeace, and immersed myself in surfing and the ocean world.

The original plan for IWTL (the I Want To Live Foundation) was to find sailors willing to volunteer their time to taking kids for a sail. While I still think this idea is a good one, there are so many other ways to experience the ocean; diving, snorkeling, surfing, kiting, observing tide pools, the opportunities for discovery are seemingly endless.

Sadly, even though Maui is surrounded by water, many kids haven’t the means or the mentors to help them make the leap. How cool would it be if we could get a few folks to step forward and take up the challenge?

At this point, I don’t know the details. It’s really just a thought. Hopefully it’s a thought that others might share. I’m wide open to suggestions and comments. These ideas are never ours to keep to ourselves and, while I do have someone in mind that could do this idea justice (and will continue to chide her ever so gently), I’m offering it to anyone interested in taking up the challenge. It’s something that I believe needs to happen and, to me, it doesn’t matter who does it.

Following is the song behind the name: (Yeah, I’m one of those cornballs who listened to a lot of John Denver as a kid).

“I Want To Live” by John Denver

There are children raised in sorrow on a scorched and barren plain,
there are children raised beneath a golden sun.
There are children of the water, children of the sand,
and they cry out through the universe, their voices raised as one:
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live.

Have you gazed out on the ocean, seen the breaching of a whale?
Have you watched the dolphins frolic in the foam?
Have you heard the song the humpback hears five hundred miles away?
Telling tales of ancient history of passages and home?
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live.

For the worker and the warrior, the lover and the liar, for the native and the wanderer in kind.
For the maker and the user, and the mother and her son.
I am looking for my family and all of you are mine.

We are standing all together, face to face and arm in arm.
We are standing on the threshold of a dream.
No more hunger, no more killing, no more wasting life away.
It is simply an idea and I know its time has come.
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be,

I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live.

Call For Submissions! Windsurfers, Kite-surfers, Sailors, Surfers, Stand-Up Paddlers, Kayakers, Canoers, Bodyboarders, Fishermen, etc., etc., etc.

“Go ahead and write about it, I dare you.”

Hey Guys and Gals! Bust out the pen and laptop and give us your best Hemingway!

We’re looking for great maritime writing. Anything to do with the ocean experience. Windsurfing, Kite-surfing, Sailing, Surfing, Stand-Up Paddling, Kayaking, Canoeing, Bodyboarding, Fishing, etc., etc., etc. for the printed version of MauiSalt, due out in December.

Please email them to Lord.Greystoke77@gmail.com