Sunday, July 14, 2013


The weather is HOT.  I got up and made sour cherry jelly before the kitchen became unbearable.  Then, although it was still early, I thought, why not go for a swim.  Our local beach is a five minute drive from here.  To get down to the water you have to mince your way down a loose gravel track. Walking so slowly gives you a chance to admire the dark shade of the woods on either side, and to take in the sweet odour of cedar and sumac.  

The beach itself is not so much of a beach as a flat grassed space with trees all around.  When I arrived, no one was there, which I realized was what I'd been wanting all along.  The water was absolutely still, and the water level lower than usual.  Three fair sized boulders stood almost entirely exposed in the shallows, their mirror images reflecting in the lake, giving the whole scene a Zen quality.  
I entered the water silently.  I like to ease myself into swimming in any case.  The clarity of the water was exquisite.  It seemed to act as a convex lens.  From wherever I stood, I seemed to be in a bowl with the walls of stone rising up around me.  Tiny bubbles on the surface made giant bubble shadows on the floor of the lake.  Each concentric ring of disturbance around me created a rainbow on the lake bottom.  From certain angles of view, each stone was fringed by rainbow colours. Even my white legs, magnified, were covered in a reticulated pattern of light, as if I were some fantastic rainbow jaguar.
Soon I was creating a rainbow nimbus around my shadow and sending out overlapping fans of colour into the world.  

Time stood still.  I felt completely relaxed in the way that you did when you were a child and there were no agendas.  There was a kind of silence around me that had nothing to do with noise.  There was noise, of course.  From the cottages around the shores came laughter and the sounds of cooking.  Gulls cried, boats putted by, but I was in my little bubble of wonder.

As I treaded water (should be trod, I'm sure but that sounds wrong) I watched paired dragonflies, hunting and mating at the same time.  I watched a roiling of the water indicating a large fish feeding near the surface move toward me.  Won't he get a surprise, I thought.  Soon it was my turn to be surprised.   Around my legs I began to notice groups of curious fish of several species, neatly camouflaged by being exactly the same colour as the lake bottom, coming to see if those big yellowiah columns of my legs might be food.  Blue gills flashed their icy neon fins at me, in the company of some fish I can't identify, and once, I saw the dark tigery stripes of a young muskellunge.

A cloud darkened the bluffs on the opposite shore, and in an instant everything had changed.  An elderly couple whom I'd seen walking earlier came down to the shore, followed by a mother and two small boys, with a joyous, stick fetching black lab.  A flotilla of haughty teenaged girls in kayaks finned by, silent and majestic.  I hoped they were having a Zen moment too.  But mine was over.  I swam around a bit more, then headed for the hill.  Its a stiff climb but the last of the wild strawberries and the first of the wild blackberries gave me a good excuse to stop on the way up.

Moments like these are pure summer.

I wish I had had a camera with me, but I didn't so you'll just have to use your imagination, or go swimming, whichever one suits you best!

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