Stringers – Fifth Wave

Fifth Wave

Well worn and dusted with sand, the black and white cover shimmered gloriously before Caspar’s eyes an effect enhanced by the fiery afternoon sun. In the foreground of the cover the silhouette of a young man perched on a rock platform staring out through a spray of mist as gauzy as cigarette smoke. Beyond the haze a wave of unknown proportions rose from the sea summoning the lone watcher as it curled and appeared to thunder across and off the edge of the page. Like father like son, Caspar was hit with his own inspiration.

Over the course of several weeks, utilizing what scrap he could pack-rat from the store, such as shipping boxes and aluminum foil, and spare resources he could acquire from his father’s workshop, including plastic wrappings, industrial glues, epoxy and varnish, Caspar set about fashioning his own surfboard from the pictures and specifications called out in his prized magazine. Lacking an ocean, or for that matter any other significant body of water large enough to generate wave or wake, the larger dunes of the Chihuahuan were the proving grounds for each new configuration.

And it was in these dunes that Caspar spent all his free time hauling surfboards to the knife-edge peaks of silicone sets and then skimming back down, imagining the lift of the rising sea and the sensation of the wind racing up the face of each new wave.

Time rolled on, and as it did, Caspar perfected his craft, repeated the drills, all the while helping to maintain an ever burgeoning family business. So it was the sum of like and similar days that filled the years to come, until the appearance of a man with an eye for the unusual who rightly went to work shaking hands, asking questions and taking pictures.

Artistic, absurd, without question unique, the unlikely Osberg site achieved iconic status in May of 1977, being named in New Mexico’s “Top Ten Quick Stops” by My Southwest travel magazine. Proudly adorning the cover a much matured Caspar, perched firmly atop the crown of a snarling beast clawing its way up the bow of the Osberg, right arm supporting his latest incarnation of surfboard, left hand raised to his brow deflecting the sun, plotting a course through the uncharted reaches. Three months later at the age of sixteen, Caspar having heard enough from so many passing travelers, said farewell to Las Cruces forever and hitched a ride west to California with a band of hopeful musicians to shape surfboards and in search of his first real wave.

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