Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gym membership, paid in full

Another year reserved …

… for swimming waters that never get better — nor never worse — than cool and green and shady …

… for rightly calling Lake Natoma my home pool — and Folsom Lake my backup …

… for the distant sly greeting of a river otter at first light, betraying its surveillance with a needle-thin wake on the mirror lake …

… for water so comfortable in August it's almost impossible to remember how cold it was, and will be, in January …

… for waves so high swim buddies disappear momentarily in the sideways rain, raising our common-sense alarms a bit too late …

… for scary plants moving just oddly enough to seem sentient, chalky and yellow green just below arm's reach, with what look like nubby teeth flashing …

… for water so cold in January hands become dead things, seen but not felt, water floods frozen mouths, and summer's relative warmth is so ever distant …

… for dashing sideways toward shore just as the whiter hull of a rowing shell pokes out of the white fog …

… for squabbling turkeys in spring, somehow, somehow evading car bumpers …

… for at least one swim under the twinkling disorientation of a full moon …

… for running in place and spilling hot tea and shivering with friends, and bragging with them about what we've just done …

… for choosing from a wide selection of parking spaces, and a mile and more of uncrowded swim lanes …

… for swimming homeward and tired into neon summer sunsets …

… for dreading a cold swim, but emerging like a swamp thing afterward, full of life and glad to have gone …

… for causing beachgoers and fisherpeople to worry and wonder about us …

… for gliding and gasping past the ghost camps of freed and escaped slaves, and Chinese wayfarers, and adventurers of all types stumbling along the riprap, ripping up these banks in search of gold 160 years ago …

… for feeling alive in the deathly cold …

… for the distant perfume of sycamores and flowers in spring, warm licorice whip of anise in fall, and more often than not on our Saturday upper lake swims, bacon frying somewhere close …

… for maybe finally finding out why Edgar Rice Burroughs' name is attached to the tiny island we swim around three times a week …

… for getting so far out from the start that getting back feels not entirely certain …

… for the first moment in spring when the water suddenly clears enough to reveal old river bottom 12 feet below and emerald …

… for the shock of realizing how shallow the rest of the lake really is …

… for the paddlers in giant Hawaiian outriggers who stop in mid-chant to tell us with smiles how crazy we are …

… for splashing water at the mean-spirited minority of huki surfski paddlers who deliberately knife right into our crowd of swimmers on late summer afternoons …

… for often being in the water long before the huki paddlers even get their coffee …

… for coffee and contemplation with swim buddies at the Starbucks®© across the street …

… for It's a Grind and Folsom Grind and Peet's and Coffee Republic and Karen's Bakery and McDonalds — all the places that had good hot coffee waiting for freezing swimmers …

… for struggling up the lazy river more than five miles on Independence Day, and flopping on the granite outcropping three-plus hours later like a dying salmon …

… for trying to seem less like a dying salmon next time 'round …

… for watching another batch of Canada geese hatch and grow and become identical to the growing ranks of the black-and-white-and-gray-brown superflock (identical except maybe to other Canada  geese) …

… for finding new adventure in every swim …

… for being able to.

Another year!

4 comments:

  1. This is one of the best: based on firsthand experience, even poetic at times, and ultimately positive....

    Sho 'nuff.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i like your blog- brave, honest and above all heart opening- thank you

    ReplyDelete