Friday was the last day our local pool was open. We’ve had the luxury of swimming 3 times a week since September — last spring they were closed during the first part of pandemic but found a way to open safely, with strict protocols regarding numbers, etc. We’ve been swimming there since 2016, though many years ago we also swam pretty regularly when our children were in school. Summers we swim in the lake, though I spent years not going with John and the kids because I don’t like crowds and there were always quite a few people at the little sandy beach area late afternoons. And who could blame them? A clean lake, good access now that a parking area has been put in and the regional district brings in sand every year? When we first began to swim in this area, 40 years ago (and even earlier for John, who came for years before I knew him), anyway, when we first began to swim here, you parked in a little area off the highway and walked on a rough trail to where you could get into the water between native willows and wild spirea. The lake bottom was a bit mucky but the water was lovely. It still is. When I began to go again regularly, about 5 summers ago, I realized that it was quiet first thing in the morning. We’d arrive around 8:30, mostly to kingfishers and the prints of deer and bears in the sand before the maintenance guy arrived to take away garbage and rake the beach. The sight of the sun coming up over the mountain, behind the cedars, as I swim in deep green water is something I cherish on summer mornings.
Nobody heard him, the dead man,But still he lay moaning:I was much further out than you thoughtAnd not waving but drowning.
It’s not quite summer yet. But the pool, as I mentioned, is closed until July for some upkeep work. When you swim regularly, you need it. You need the feeling of your aging body in water, you need the buoyancy, the silkiness as you reach out your arms to propel yourself forward and back. Lake swimming is heaven. I tried to keep it up over the winter but honestly it wasn’t really swimming, the times I went down, wrapped in towels, a toque on my head. It was more a waking. The water was so cold and I’d immerse myself, doing a few circles until I couldn’t feel my feet or hands, and come out. I felt spectacular, so alive, and I loved the sense of knowing the lake in winter. I’ll do it every year. But this morning the water was not that cold. Cool, yes, but once I did a length or two, I felt the way I feel in summer: strong, purposeful, held by water.
Poor chap, he always loved larkingAnd now he’s deadIt must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always(Still the dead one lay moaning)I was much too far out all my lifeAnd not waving but drowning.
2 thoughts on “Not waving but…”
My last regular swim was March 11 2020, and I would have thought having to be this long without this daily routine would be impossible to bear. It’s remarkable how much we underestimate what is bearable, and even more so how we entertain the idea that we have any choice in the matter or whether we do or we won’t. I have found that yoga does make my body feel good, stretched and worked in the same way that swimming did. And I can’t quite believe that I will ever get back to daily swimming again. Though I never would have believed I’d have to go without it, so what do I know anyway…. Except that there is plenty of lake swimming ahead for me in the next few months and i am very excited.
I’m glad you’ll be able to swim again. And yes, we do underestimate what we can bear. Beyond imagining, actually. Swimming has been J’s therapy after his surgery. In water he is able to do the stuff he can’t on land, or at least he can’t as easily. And the water exercises help to strengthen his damaged foot. So that makes me hugely grateful.