Maintaining the Aloha Spirit: Retired Sill Surfing Cold Water History Teacher | Daily news alerts
WEST – The man once referred to as a “surf poet” stood inside the Rhode Island Surf Co. on the High Street one evening last week, surrounded by colorful local art, surfboards and gifts comfortable, environmentally friendly and inspired by surfing.
The man, Glenn S. Gordinier, 74 – a Stonington resident who recently retired as a longtime senior historian at Mystic Seaport, where he also taught for the Coast and Ocean Studies program at Williams College and Mystic Seaport – chatting amicably with store owner Walter “Walle” Hutton as Willie Nelson’s version of “Blue Christmas” played softly in the background.
The two men, both seasoned surfers, spoke fondly of the loose but tight-knit local surf scene and recalled their first meeting. It was definitely in the water, they agreed, in the “line” off Fenway Beach.
The alignment is the area of ââthe ocean where waves crash and surfers congregate – in line – watching and waiting their turn to make it ashore.
âI think it was about 18 or 20 years ago,â said Gordinier, who is married to artist and activist Pamela Pike Gordinier.
âThere was a great aloha spirit,â Hutton said with a warm smile. “I remember that.”
“It’s always cool to see people in the water,” added Hutton, whose shop is filled with “items that make your home feel good.”
âThe circle is complete,â Hutton said.
Gordinier and Hutton then spoke about the local surf community, local surf hotspots and the connections made in the water – and in the parking lot. Often, they said, surfers can be recognized by the boards they ride or the cars they drive.
âI’m the guy with the white Subaru,â Gordinier said with a laugh.
The pair were also talking about plans for the book launch party Hutton is hosting for Gordinier at his surf shop next Friday.
The book, Gordiner said, is actually an “extended” second edition of “Surfing Cold Water: A New Englander’s Off-Season Obsession,” which was published in 2012 by Flat Hammock Press in Mystic. It was a âsurfing memory from the winter season,â he said, which âtold of surf waves near and farâ.
He has also been praised by several well-known writers and even a celebrity.
Award-winning author Nathaniel Philbrick, whose book “In the Heart of the Sea” won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction and was the basis of a film of the same title directed by Ron Howard, titled The Book of Gordinier “a quietly powerful meditation on life and all its aquatic resonances that will make you want to don a wetsuit and dive into the freezing sea.”
Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, the âreal-life gidgetâ of surfer movie fame Gidget, is the one who gave her the title âa surfing poetâ in her book presentation.
âIt captures the excitement and euphoria,â she wrote. “If you love surfing, you’ll love this book.”
Although âwarmly received,â he said, the first book had a small circulation and has been out of print for years.
He was inspired to write an “expanded edition,” he said, “to give other people a chance to share the thrill of riding the waves.”
“And, honestly, one of the things I enjoyed the most over the years was when someone in the line, or in the parking lot, asked me if I was the surfer who writes the book, “writes Gordinier in the introduction to the second volume.
âThere is also a third reason,â he wrote. “It’s just fun to share ‘one story’ as they say in Hawaii, and the passage of a dozen years means there are more stories to be told.”
The new book includes a number of essays titled “Twelve Years Later,” many of which deal with “the challenges of staying physically active into old age,” he writes.
The stories, mostly accounts of Gordinier’s surfing experiences in Rhode Island, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii and Portugal, are meant to entertain readers, he said, and to explain “the addiction. that sends surfers into waves big and small, nice and menacing. “
The book also examines “the surfer’s compulsion and the life cycles experienced by … unannounced surfers across the world.”
The stories are all short essays, said Gordinier, who dedicates the new volume to his wife, Pam, and their son, Nate.
Readers can “get a quick fix,” he laughed, “then get on with the day.”
Gordinier, who grew up “by the sea” in Ocean City, New Jersey, describes his first surfing experience – in the waters of Avalon – in a section of the book called “Epiphany.”
âThat’s when I fell in love with surfing,â he said. “I think we all have our epiphanies.”
Gordinier added a number of photos to “Still Surfing Cold Water”, including one taken by Harold Hanka, former chief photographer for The Westerly Sun, featuring the author at Fenway Beach in a wetsuit, leaning over above the water on his board doing a “backstroke turn.”
Hanka, who has taken numerous photos of local surfers in western waters, said whenever he hears of a storm coming from the coast he plans to go to Fenway Beach or Watch Lighthouse. Hill or one of the other western surf spots, knowing that there will be plenty of action shots for you.
Now retired from the Sun, Hanka said she was particularly impressed with Gordinier and his dedication to his sport.
“It goes out in all weathers,” Hanka said in a telephone interview.
âI remember it was a very cold day,â Hanka said, referring to the day he took the photo of Gordinier featured in the book. “I really admire the men and women who do this … it’s amazing to see them there.”
Gordinier said he was thrilled to have the book signing at The Rhode Island Surf Co. and that he felt a special affinity with the Huttons: Walle and his wife, Becky.
Their family business is “more than just a surfboard store,” he said. âHe’s inspired by surf culture and the Rhode Island coast. “
âWalle is a real asset to the community, to say the least,â said Gordinier.
Friday’s event will also include a book signing, in-store discounts, a raffle to support the Ocean Recovery Community Alliance’s beach clean-up, and free seasonal fare from another member of the local surf community. : Brian and Chiyoko Samuelson’s Stick & Fin on Main Street, where “Coffee, Juice, and Kindness” is served six days a week.
Although there have been many changes in the 12 years since he wrote the original “Surfing Cold Water”, writes Gordinier, “other things have remained the same.”
âThe most important thing is the family,â he wrote. “And there is always the joy and the euphoria of having fun, the pleasure of surfing a wave in any season of the year.”