The new strong swell being pushed by a north Pacific strong hit the beaches Saturday, with five to seven foot waves and throngs of surfers. Any Saturday sees the surf line packed with weekend warrior types, but today it was especially crowded with those that could handle the huge waves and those that wanted to. Many on-lookers lined the jetties and beaches in awe of the skill of these young warriors and cringing as those less talented, were punished by the exploding breakers.

It’s nearly impossible to distinguish one surfer from the next once they’ve paddled outside and are sitting half submerged, all dressed in black neoprene. They bob around all gathered at the point where the wave usually begins to break. Once a set wave is seen coming from outside, the black figures start moving about like ants on a cookie. But wait just a minute, there’s someone amongst them wearing a bright green beanie and a pair of thick eyeglasses. He doesn’t appear to be using his arms to move around, he must be kicking his feet. Who the heck is that! He’s no ordinary surfer.

If you take a sculptor, a classical guitar player, a composer, a retired elementary school teacher, a WWII veteran, a raiser of butterflies, an ardent hiker and backpacker, a bachelor well noted amongst the ladies; then you throw him in a wetsuit, put him on a custom bodyboard, fins on his feet, a green beanie, a pair of thick spectacles tethered with the elastic from an old pair of jockey shorts and throw him into the surf, you’ve got one Don Wilson. How many 82 year olds were out there in those waves today?

Don is an inspiration; truly a man who lives every day to it’s fullest. His home is a reflection of the man. In fact, when you walk into the entry, there is the man, in an 8-foot high paper mache curling wave laying on his bodyboard. Don has created this enormous sculpture right in his living room! Laying about the house are some of his other art projects, musical compositions in process and always a large magnifying glass near by. I think Don stole the bottoms off a couple of wine bottles and is using them for his eyeglasses. Don is very frugal.

The mountains and the Sequoias hold a special place in Don’s heart. He’s been backpacking for over 40 years and is always eager to introduce his friends to the natural wonders that stir his heart and soul. At the age of 81, he carried a full pack to over 9,000 feet and then skinning dipped in a snowmelt fed lake. When standing on a ridge at over 10,000 feet, looking east and north, he’ll be glad to name all the granite peaks he’s climbed.

Don’s usually around, he’s not much on freeway driving anymore. If he’s not working on a project or practicing his guitar, he’s probably walking his little poodle Tee Tee. I am trying hard to listen and learn. Don attitude towards life, his physical activities, his passion for music, his intellectual curiosity, his friendships, fuel the fire of Don Wilson, no ordinary man.


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