This is the story of Haole, a bird that can't fly, but surfs fifty-foot waves and is about to make the discovery of his life -
The inner game of surfing. The magic that makes life a game. In a new book by J.E. Milne

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Endless Translucent Blue

There had been a storm raging for several days at the time, and all the other penguins in the huddle, back on the ice, had been particularly miserable and gossipy. It made them happier, when they didn’t feel good, to make fun of other penguins – sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, Haole was tired of it. The sky was a dark mass of swirling clouds and rain, and the ocean was a frothy mess of wind-whipped waves and chunks of ice as he made his way through the water. The wind had picked up to a harsh gale while he had been out and he could see in the distance that back on the ice the penguins looked small and miserable. The beautiful thing about the ocean, thought Haole, is how calm and peaceful it stays just beneath the surface. Even though the wind was blowing a mean storm above the water, underneath it was a perfect, seemingly endless, clear translucent blue. Why would he want to go back, he thought. Haole soared gracefully through the water. He dipped and turned. He swooped as whitecaps crashed almost silently above him and burst into clouds of white foam on the surface. The light coming through the water above him diffracted into long columns of light blue, glowing down into the depths. Haole’s mind wandered as he swam. His mother had been on at him again about responsibility and about how he continually let her down by not wanting to join in the conversation about how terrible the albatross were. Albatross were big white and gray birds that flew over the ice sheet this time of year. A big group of them had flown over just before the storm kicked up. “What’s so terrible about them?” he had said back to her.
“You always say the silliest things, Haole. You know what they do is so insulting,” she had retorted back at him.
“No, really, what is so insulting?” he was only half listening, as he watched the yearlings playing near the edge of the sheet, sliding off a chunk of ice into the water with a splash.
“Don’t play dumb with me, young man.” She was taking this way too seriously, her feathers beginning to ruffle on the back of her neck. “They fly right over us.” She waited for him to agree. “They’re making fun of us!”
“Mom!” Penguins were almost insufferably stupid sometimes, thought Haole. They were so insecure about not being able to fly that any bird that happened to be migrating overhead was suddenly making some statement. “Mom, they’re just flying.” Haole leveled a stare at her, “the same way we swim.”
She huffed and turned her back on him to keep complaining with the other mothers gathered and huddled together on the ice.

In the ocean now, the endless blue glided past beneath him. That conversation had been yesterday, but his mind still wrestled with it a little as he soared around the undulating subsurface of an iceberg. And soar he did. Have you ever seen penguins swim underwater? They swim with the effortless ease of a flying bird. Well, they are birds. They’re flightless birds, to be exact. They soar and dive, flap their wings, and bank in tight little arcs at tremendous speeds underwater. The first time I ever saw a penguin underwater, do you know what I thought? I thought that penguins could teach the fish how to swim better. They could.
Haole was thinking about this very thing as he swam. The other day he and his best friend Keiki had been talking. “Why should we be bitter toward the albatross?” he said to her. “They fly in the air and we swim in the water.”
She looked at him like he had fish scales stuck in his beak. “The albatross eat our eggs!” she said in disgust.
“Good point,” he mused. “Have you ever actually seen them do it?”
“Actually I have seen them do it,” she shot back. “Then they fly around in circles way up in the air making fun of us.”
Haole shook his head. “Penguins are so isolated that we think that everyone is making fun of us. We eat the fish. They must think that we’re constantly making fun of them.”
“That’s totally different,” Keiki argued. “It’s lucky that the others can’t hear you say ridiculous things like that.”
“I bet that the albatross are jealous of how easily we swim and catch fish,” he had said.
“Haole!” She had playfully reprimanded him.

He banked hard and dove deeper to avoid a piece of the iceberg that jutted out at an angle downward. The huge storm waves on the surface were causing the ice to tip slightly with each swell as they crashed against its side. The light slanting through the water beneath him fell away to an unseen depth. Haole was so caught up in just the pure feeling of soaring down into the dim depths, banking left and right as he went down, thinking about the silly conversation with Keiki and the gossip he was happily missing back on the ice, that he almost didn’t see it in time.
Something raced out of the shadows at a tremendous speed, heading right for him! For a second he was unsure what it was; then all the alarm bells went off inside his head! A million years of evolution tripped a wire in his brain and, as his eyes almost bulged out of their sockets, one name filled his mind with screaming dread - Killer Whale!
Its mouth was already wide open, ready to eat him in one terrible bite. Haole banked a hard left as the huge jaws snapped shut just a few inches behind his back flippers. He banked hard again and headed for the iceberg above him. He flapped and kicked with everything he had, pushing for the safety of the iceberg’s crevices. The killer whale was so close behind that Haole could smell it’s stinky breath, putrid with the stench of other penguins he’d killed and eaten in the last few days. Haole gave one last desperate push, and banked right just at the ice. The killer whale, just on Haole’s fins, couldn’t stop or turn so quickly, and bashed into the ice with a tremendous thud as shattered ice crashed into the water all around him.
Haole didn’t look back, but scratched for the surface with all his might, dodging pieces of falling iceberg, and cursing himself for daydreaming out in the open ocean. The ice shelf was only a few hundred yards away. If he could only reach it he’d be safe.
A sudden huge SNAP shattered any illusions that he had lost the k-whale. The frighteningly huge teeth gnashed together just behind Haole’s fins, propelling him forward with a rush of water and sheer terror. Haole banked sharply upward toward the surface. He knew that he couldn’t out-run the whale in a straight line, but he could turn harder than him, and if he zig-zagged back and forth, the whale would lose a lot of speed trying to change directions with its huge body. The whale was still right on his fins though. Desperately he banked left, but the whale stayed with him. He veered right, but gained only a couple inches. He banked upward again. Above him, only a few feet above his head now, was the exploding foam of the storm raging on the open water.
Haole glanced back only to see the k-whale’s gaping mouth wide open, right on him, about to snap down again. There was only one place he could go - only one last card he could play. He banked toward the rolling foam above him and launched himself into the air:
It was like thunder! The relative silence of the water gave way to the crashing of towering waves. The storm on the water’s surface was blowing a blinding fury of frothy foam and chunks of ice. Haole launched out of the water’s surface at full speed and flew, twisting with the momentum, in a long arc. Behind him, the k-whale broke the surface too and his massive body lurched upward after Haole, jaws snapping. He crashed down awkwardly in a huge splash just behind Haole, who flew further than the whale, twisting as the wind pushed his small body. As he splashed down, his face turned skyward from the effort and he saw it - coming straight at them! A huge storm wave was racing toward them like a beast from beneath the water! It dwarfed the whale, and it was equally as terrifying, but it was his only chance. Haole made a quick decision, and on entering the water again, he flipped his wings hard and made for the wave.
The k-whale was still right on his heels as they entered the trough in front of the sloping surface of the wave. Haole could feel the tremendous power of the wave already beginning to pull him upward, as it began to get steeper. He stroked hard for the center of the body of the wave. This k-whale must be really hungry, he thought. A whale would have to be crazy to follow me into this. He pushed forward and up into the slope.
The whole world lurched suddenly! Without warning the force of the water moving upward became too strong to swim against. He was caught in it now. It dawned on him that he was crazy for swimming into this. At least he had a chance of getting away from the whale, but there was no escaping this monster of a wave.
Haole risked a glance back at the k-whale, still right on his heels as the wave began to suck. For a brief second, his eyes met those of the k-whale. Steel black eyes that no penguin ever saw, but that were followed by certain death. The cold eyes of a killer. And he saw fear!
The face of the wave went concave and suddenly they were both weightless, being carried helplessly upwards as the thick lip of the wave began to throw itself outward. The violent surface of the water (now to their side, not above them, as they had been pulled up into the body of the wave) suddenly was pulled and brushed smooth, and from the inside it took on a magical shimmering quality. It was like a wall of glass next to them. Like a mirror, but on the other side was air. There was a pause. The energy of the wave had reached the top and paused for a second before it began to crash down. Somewhere behind and below them was a thundering explosive crash as the lip began to break against the ocean. Then they were being pulled out – forward into the lip – into that explosion.
Haole freaked. He was way beyond scared. The killer whale, behind him, began to be flung outward, helplessly. He watched as it was pulled over and down towards the exploding white water. Then it was gone. He never saw it again. He was next!
For some reason, and Haole still does not know why (I think it was destiny. Sometimes the hand of destiny reaches out and makes us do great things – even sometimes against our will.) Haole veered left! He veered left toward that translucent shimmering wall. The force of the wave tugged at him, but he was just strong enough. The wave was trying to take him over with the lip and down into that explosion, but Haole kicked one more time, stretched his wings out, and punched through the surface!
What happened next happened fast. He broke through into the air and flew for just a few feet, reconnected with the surface, and began to slide. He didn’t punch back through – couldn’t – he was going way too fast! He slid down the face of the wave, gaining speed, struggling to slow himself down. The arcing explosion of the lip was deafening below him as he slid right towards it. Panicking, he shoved his wing into the wall of water and dug his heels in as hard as he could. This slowed him a bit, and he began to slide sideways with the motion of the wave. He faltered in his balance for a second, struggled to stay upright as he dug his wing in a little deeper, then leaned forward. He was shocked to realize that he was in control. He was shooting along the face of the crushing beast of a wave. He turned a little, digging the sides of his feet into the surface and leaning into the turn. He was racing through the air! The lip was exploding behind him as he bolted across the curving face. He held on for just another second – he didn’t know how long it was because time seemed to stand still – and the wave collapsed behind him, imploding into a mass of foam. He glided on the surface for fifty feet or so with the extra momentum and then sank back into the water as his speed dissipated.
Haole looked around to see if anyone had seen, but there was just empty water and the cliffs of the Elsworth ice sheet rising in front of him. He looked behind him, remembering with a sudden flash of panic the k-whale, but it was gone. The monster was nowhere to be seen. Looking backwards, he suddenly realized where he was. He was on the other side of the reef. Just then another huge wave reared up on the reef and broke, peeling with violent precision, as Haole watched. He had just ridden that? His mother had always told him to stay away from the reef during storms. Now he knew why. The only problem was that now he also knew that he was hooked. He had a feeling inside him that he had never felt before – a feeling that somehow this experience was going to change his life. He looked around again to make sure the k-whale was gone, and then hurried back to the ice sheet.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Night Surfing

This is from chapter 8 of the book - a part about night surfing -

Once he was out at the break he marveled at the way the low moon gave plenty of light to see the waves by and he immediately swam into a big one, riding it all the way down the line. It reminded him of the waves he used to catch back off the ice sheet - big, mean and fast. He quickly swam outside and caught another one, carving long drawn out turns all the way down the line. These waves were fast and thick, and the swell was getting bigger with each set. Once Haole had been out in the moonlight surfing for an hour or more, the trouble he felt about the journey to the Gathering was a million miles away, and after several more waves Haole looked up into the sky and lay back in the water. There was a lull, and the sea went momentarily calm.
The Moon sat on the horizon for what seemed like a long time as Haole stared at it and waited for another set to come building into the point. Finally, the moon set in a faint glow and the clouds followed it over the horizon to complete their blanket of the sky. Haole watched the whole thing. He was mesmerized, watching the last of the glow fade, thinking about the good fortune he had had, coming to the island and finding good friends and a safe place to live. Even if the journey to the Gathering was not going to happen, things were going to work out in the long run. For just a minute Haole thought about his mother back on the ice. It made him sad because the truth was, although Haole would never have admitted it, he really missed his mother and the community of penguins in the huddle. Secretly he wished that he could go back, but could he go back? Was he just an outcast now? He even missed the way his mother used to smooth the feathers on his head after he swam. He was lost in thought for a long moment.
Now, my esteemed reader, pay close attention because something really astounding is about to happen to Haole. He is about to take the next step in his journey to becoming a legend.
A movement in the water stirred Haole’s attention and he looked around. He became alarmed when he realized that he could not see a thing - nothing! After the moon set, the sea had become pitch black! The motion of the water, Haole knew, was the water moving out as the next set of powerful waves approached. He gulped, looked around in a panic, but there was nothing. Clouds covered the sky and he was in total darkness. Fear began to creep up his back. This was dangerous. He could feel the first wave approaching.
Haole wanted to swim into the wave. He was in the perfect position but the sea was too black. The huge wave rushed at him with a speed exaggerated by the darkness. Haole struggled to see, straining his eyes to squeeze the last bit of moonlight out of the dark. There was none. It was just black. With a powerful pull he was lifted up in the body of the wave as the first one jacked up on the reef.
Hope seemed to rush out of his body. Haole closed his eyes in a moment of despair, but just then something happened. He realized that there was no difference between opening and closing his eyes. For just a moment it came to him, a vision of himself lying on his back, eyes closed on a sunny afternoon, safely floating in the water. He relaxed.
He heard a voice in his mind. ‘Trust yourself,’ it said. ‘Don’t be afraid, it’s only water… let go.’ Pushing forward, he swam into the wave.
He closed his eyes. The spray blowing up off the top of the wave was still raining against him. The weightlessness at the edge was the same as when it was light and, as he pushed himself out through the lip, he felt for his feet to connect with the face. He raced downward with the speed of gravity. His webbed feet connected in the darkness with the water and sliced a clean turn off the bottom as he leaned into the wave and felt for the power in the face to let him know when to come off the gas and re-adjust to set his line. The lip exploded behind him in a shuddering roar, splitting the dark like a whip cracking. Haole opened his eyes involuntarily at the boom but he could see nothing, just searing blackness. He closed them again. The face of the wave went concave and Haole leaned forward on his toe edge, picking up speed as the barrel came over and enveloped him in a huge sucking cylinder of air. He raced forward, meeting the darkness, feeling his way through the wave as he adjusted his weight to stay in the juicy power center. The water flew past under his toes as he crouched down with the speed and braced for the final rush. Behind him the tube began to collapse and the foam of the breaking wave spat out around his body as he leaned forward once again and carved a clean line in the dark toward the safety of the shoulder. He had ridden a wave from start to finish with his eyes closed!
He was so at one with the rhythm and motion of the waves that he didn’t need to see. He swam in the blackness until he could feel by the way the sea moved that he was out near the top of the point again. He felt calm, centered and acutely aware of each nuance in the motion of the water. It was only then that he surfaced, finally opening his eyes, and saw that in the distance the first light of dawn had just begun. There was an eerie salt-spray mist hanging over the water and it was like a fog in the slight gray light. Haole could see another set wave coming, looming toward him.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ancient Mystery

Haole’s blood slowly began to unfreeze as he stared upwards, still unable to take his gaze off of that huge eye. There was no way that he could form any words yet. The Narwhal must have been at least seventy feet long, with a huge, wide and powerful tail. Its skin was a rough, mottled dark blue-gray and there was no dorsal fin upon its enormous, wide back. The absence of that dorsal fin, which all other whales have, allowed the Narwhal to swim for miles and miles underneath the thick Antarctic ice. But the most amazing feature was a single tremendous, twisted, white horn like that of a unicorn, growing out from the center of its face to a length of fifty feet or more, which it uses to break open the winter ice that covers the ocean surface of its home.
Now, my esteemed readers, I’m sure that some of you already have begun to doubt that such a creature really exists and have already gone to look it up in a book about whales or to ask your teachers, and I’m certain that some of you have already found photos of real Narwhals – because they are oh-so-real - and I would never lie to you. But, you see, my readers, the Narwhals in the photos of your books are so much smaller than the whale that I have described (just scarcely bigger than a dolphin) that I feel the need here to pause and tell you (assure you) that, although people don’t like to admit it, and although books will claim to know everything and science will act as if there are no more mysteries left on this beautiful planet of ours - There are things we still do not know! This is the truth!
The oceans cover two-thirds of our planet! The water is as much as twenty nine thousand feet deep in places! The oceans contain mountain ranges underwater and deserts and endless rolling hills and plateaus and miles upon thousands of miles of unexplored waters hidden beneath the dark ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. We as people are sometimes so sure that we know all about everything, and we put all of our children in school to teach them as if what we teach them is everything there is to know and everything that is worth knowing – but this simply is not true. The world contains mysteries still deep enough to evade us for a long time yet. Perhaps forever. Even though we have microscopes, telescopes, computers, satellites with infra-red imaging and so many more seemingly infallible tools, there are still many things we do not know and have not yet seen. The Southern Narwhal is one of those things. Now, the Northern Narwhal, just as you have probably seen in books, is small like a dolphin (not that dolphins are small – they can be twelve feet long!). But deep in the Antarctic Ocean lives the ancient cousin to these modern northern Narwhals and these incredible beasts are huge. Left over from a time when the world’s oceans were colder, during the last ice age, these animals used to swim over the entire globe. Science has never proven the existence of these animals and you will not find a picture of them in any book – but I believe they still swim beneath the ice and range through the frigid water of the Antarctic. There was a time, oh my dears, when the planet was covered with ice over much of its surface and the Narwhal was king. Their memories go back much longer than other animals and their knowledge of the oceans is as deep as the deepest dark ocean trenches.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Adventure Begins

The Adventures of Haole the Penguin begin on a floating slab of ice connected to the Antarctic mainland and pummeled by massive storm waves all winter. It’s a hell of a place to live, but the penguins call it home. They spend their time divided between fishing, staying warm, and gossiping about one another.
This was the penguin’s entire universe. No penguin ever ventured outside of this landscape and the few miles of ocean that surround it.
On several occasions Haole had asked his mother about this very thing. One time it was while they stood together, watching a storm approach over the cliffs to the west. “What’s past those cliffs?” Haole asked innocently.
“Just more ice,” his mother had responded automatically. She used to seem so big to Haole, towering above him, but since he had his growth spurt she didn’t seem so huge. She was just a little taller than him now.
The answer didn’t satisfy him. “Well, what’s beyond that?” he persisted innocently.
“Even more ice,” she said firmly, then added “and more cliffs.”
There was a long pause as Haole doubted for a second that his mom knew everything. “Mom?”
“What is it, Haole?” She looked at him sweetly.
“Well, what’s beyond that?” He was going to repeat the question until he got an answer other than ‘ice.’
His mother’s feathers ruffled. “Why don’t you spend your time thinking about more important things?” she gently scolded him.
“Like what?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.
“Like fishing,” she said predictably. “Haole, one of these days very soon you are going to have to stop all of your dreaming and start keeping your mind on practical matters. You are growing up.”
See what I mean, Dear reader?

Haole does not fit in. He is convinced there must be more to life than fish and gossip and aches to discover the worlds’ mysteries. Synchronicity steps in as he stumbles upon something else, something magical that he likes to do in his free time. The other penguins think this is absurd. What else is there except fish, fishing, and staying warm… except staying away from the killer whales and leopard seals?
Well, Haole happens on this other thing quite by accident as he is coming back to the ice sheet from fishing one day. While swimming out by the reef during a storm he has his first glimpse of this magic when he learns to surf in a freak encounter with a hungry killer whale and a huge rogue-wave!

This begins a trail of discovery for Haole that leads him to run away from home, traveling the South Pacific riding perfect waves. He and his friend Donna travel all the way to Tahiti where they meet and take their place in an ocean-wide community of sea creatures. This is where he will face his biggest challenge and learn life’s biggest lesson.

Haole’s story touches readers hearts because along with a compelling plot about coming of age, it genuinely conveys a love for the environment and the importance of taking personal responsibility not just for the oceans, but for one’s own dreams. To put it simply it’s a gripping tale of a bird finding the inner magic of life and then bringing it home with him. This book takes you surfing.

Joshua Eli Milne has been traveling the world and surfing for over 30 years. He has three children of his own, lives next to the famous Rincon point on the beach in Carpinteria, California, and still rides waves every day. He met Haole while out surfing a deserted point in Central America and it changed his life. When he was a child he thought that "Surfing is Life", but now he knows that "Life is Surfing." So whether you surf a wheelchair or a deck chair, a perfect body or a broken spirit –
Don't Hesitate! Drop In!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Worldwide Release!!

Welcome, dear reader, to the official worldwide release of The Adventures of Haole the Penguin.

This book will take you surfing.