Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The last swim?

I heard it on both the television news and the radio station I listen to.

"You'd better get outside and enjoy this last blast of summer weather today
because the next week is gonnna look a lot more like autumn!" They proceeded
to remind everyone that the winter cold and snow is only a few short months away
in the next breath. As much as I want to deny it, I knew that it's true. It will be a long
time before we see another 95 degree day. I headed out to the lake around 3 p.m.,
a little bit sad that it was probably the last time that the water would be warm enough
to swim in.
In town, the "ornamental trees" in yards and roads are already turning yellow
and red. It's different in the country. The true signs are bales of hay and the
brown cornstalks in the fields. At the lake, the trees are mostly still green, just a
random patch of yellow right now. I picked my spot on the beach, stripped down
to my trunks, and walked into the water.
When you know a certain place, I mean really know it, you notice subtle changes
around you. The first thing I noticed as I waded up to my knees, was that the water
was indeed much cooler. It was still comfortable and very refreshing, but colder.
The groundwater entering from the springs is cold and the nights with consistent
50 degree lows aren't going to help. The second thing I noticed was the smell.
It was the smell the lake has when there aren't as many people splashing around
in the water. The water kind of settles down and smells much more "earthy". I
dove in and felt the sting of a cold shower and started to swim across the lake.
When I get to the middle of the lake it's always a tranquil, serene moment. I
usually float around, 250 feet above the lake bottom, and from that unique vantage
point, I feel more in tune with the natural world and my "human animal" than ever.
I was floating on my back, looking up at the jagged edge of the tree tops against
an endless blue sky when a pair of blue herons flew right over me and landed in the
marshy bank. They were big beautiful birds - strong, graceful, and majestic. I don't
know if it was the birds or the cold water that made me shiver. I slowly swam back
to shore.
While I was drying off on the grass, I noticed the absence of dragonflies, black
flies, and butterflies. The sun was starting to sink into the western horizon and the
other folks who came out for their afternoon swim started to head back to their cars.
I lingered with a few other people, in no hurry to leave. Of course I had my camera
with me and had been taping the fun. As I went to put my sandals on, I noticed a
snake in the water, swimming from one patch of water lillies to the next, probably in
search of food. Click the button and let the mpeg load to see this snake!