Growing up on the east coast, only a few kilometers away from internationally respected Lawrencetown beach, the question “do you surf” comes up regularly. There are a lot of easy, believable reasons that I could give: I’m too busy, I don’t have a board, I don’t have a wetsuit, the Atlantic is cold AF, but at the end of the day, those would just be excuses. Truth be told, surfing has always scared me immensely. Although surfing has a reputation for being a laid-back, easy-going sport, trying new things is hard for me at the best of times- I have a well-defined comfort zone and prefer to do things I know I’ll be good at. Beyond that, growing up at the ocean’s edge has taught me an immense respect for the power of the ocean, which at times borders on a healthy fear. The one previous time that I almost found myself on a surfboard, just months ago on the Emerald Coast in Nicaragua, I backed out last minute when I realized just how forceful the waves were on that particular day and that I was the only first time surfer on the beach.

Fast forward to this beautiful, humid, salty, east coast summer of endless sunsets and a perfectly timed invitation from my friends at A for Adventure to try surfing for the first time, this time on home turf, with a lot of other rookies and the very capable (and patient) teachers at the East Coast Surf School and I was ready to push through my fears and finally go for it. Walking into the ocean for the first time sucked into a wetsuit with a giant board quite literally tied to my body felt kind of like taking my first uncertain steps onto a new planet. There I was, on a beach I have spent countless hours exploring, feeling totally out of my element and unsure of what was going to happen next.

And what happened next was humbling, to put it lightly. In the simplest terms, I sucked. I sucked a lot. I was basically a beach ball being tossed around by big, warm, turquoise waves rolling in fresh from the latest of a series of tropical storms. The couple of times I miraculously got up, I fell back over immediately, usually inhaling a face full of salt water while I was at it. Paddling out, which I imagined might be the chill side of surfing, was actually a ton of work. Coordination has never been my strong suit, so maybe it’s no surprise that even timing my paddling with the waves was a challenge. And, in case you were getting any other impression, I loved every freaking minute of it. Each time I caught a wave, much less got up on my board, I felt like I had done something worth celebrating. For the two hours I was in the water I didn’t worry about work, bills, boys or anything else because I was so focused on the task at hand. My body felt tired from working so hard but awakened by the magic of the salt and sun all over me. Most of all, I was reminded of how strong and untameable nature truly is-something I’ll carry with me on my next trips into the wilds of this little province.

It would have been hard to pull me out of the water but nature also gifted our learn-to-surf night with the most beautiful sunset I can remember in a long time and Andy Hay was on hand making some of the best beach eats I’ve ever been blessed with so between photographing and eat I was as busy multitasking as I could manage. If my wetsuit hadn’t done such a good job keeping me warm the after surf talks and hangs with some of my favourite Halifax humans would have done the trick and then some- I dare you to try not catching some residual good vibes in these snapshots. Although the rest of the summer is already filling up quickly, mostly with work but a little spice of life adventure on the side, I might not know when I’ll get the time next but I’m already looking forward to learning to surf round two.

Alexa Cude