In the late November of 1995, my new girlfriend took me to meet friends of hers on the Oregon coast.
One morning we were walking along the beach. The sun was shining and there was still warmth in it, even though it was late in the year. The sea and the wind were not so warm. I was walking along where the water came about half way up my Wellies, my Barbour slung over my shoulder, and my Akubra on my head. The beach was very level and the ocean was shallow for a good way out. Nevertheless, the tide was coming in at an angle from behind me. I had noticed that the waves were getting higher on my rubber boots and started to move toward dry land which hadn’t seemed so far away before. I had not noticed the seventh wave forming behind me.
When it came, it hit the backs of my knees and went down my boots. Somewhat taken aback by the cold water, I turned quickly to see what the next wave looked like and lost my hat. It fell into an incoming wave which took it to shore. However, the wind caught it and blew it back into the Pacific, where the next wave carried it along parallel to the shore.
My girlfriend set out after my hat. She reached it; and as they both moved along together, she leaned over to pluck it out of the water. Just as she caught it, she lost her balance. Holding her camera above her head in one hand and my hat in the other, she sat down in the water.
I had reached dry land and had run along the shore to where she was just as she landed. Taking in the whole build up and the scene before me, I started to laugh. While most of me was dissolving into hilarity, there was a part of me which said, ‘If she comes up crying, we are finished. If she comes up laughing, you had better marry her.’
I married her seventeen years ago today.
While we survived the ordeal, my Akubra ‘Drover’ did not fare so well. I had bought it a few years before from a company called Denewear. It dried out alright, but shrunk a little; and with every shower thereafter, it shrunk a little more. We still have it, but my son wears it now.