The Meaning of Walden

The sun is not always sparkling at Walden. Yesterday, for instance, I did not go because I knew it would not wink at me from the clouded sky. And the sun means a lot to me, her warmth, the messages of love she sends, her light.
But today, when the sun returned to the pond, so did I. And I discovered that the slanted sheets of rain which fell in Walden yesterday bought an uncanny but welcome warmth to the water.
It is of course, late October, not what I was expecting.

We stood in the car park bathed in wetsuit black (today was another unusually warm October day, some seventy plus degrees day) deliberating the water temperature. Another of the regular swimmers had measured it to be sixty-two (62 degrees F) weeks ago. “No, that couldn’t have been right,” we repudiated the information. “I measured it as sixty-five on Tuesday,” offered John. Cathy and I looked at each other. We doubted it. It felt colder in our fingers, our toes.
Yet today we swam longer and floated and flapped around even after finishing our swim before we made for the beach.

The beach was swarming with sightseers by 2 pm. And the car park, on reduced capacity as some of the sections have been closed to reflect the reduced staffing of Walden (a state park), was almost full.

I was interested in hearing what Walden’s visitors had to say about us late season swimmers as they came and went from the wall where we gathered, stripping our wetsuits down to our waists. “There’s people that swim here all the time,” I heard one fellow telling his friend. (I felt chaffed to be referred to with the group of hardy of Walden’s swimmers.) Then I watched as they stood listening to Cathy and Jane and I deciding on a meeting time for tomorrow.

We worry when the weekend comes and the sun shines through seventy degree air… Last Saturday I sat drumming anxious fingers on my steering wheel at the turn light from route 2 to route 126.
It was uncannily warm, and the parking was filling. The pond closed from 2.00 pm till 4.30 pm. Cathy was four cars in front of mine and I watched as she turned into the parking…I inched along the road behind her. Would the warden let me through? Would I get in? Would I get to swim?

You see, my obsession begins to show at this time of year. Is it fitness? Maybe. I heard the warden tell one visitor last week as I stood on the beach near her… “People swim here for all sorts of reasons. It’s a big triathlete training ground.” Not me. Anymore. She continued, “Some people believe in the healing properties of Walden.” I guess I knew this. Remembering the winter ten years ago when I swam here until the pond froze. I attributed the fact I didn’t get a cold or flu at all that year to my swimming in the frigid water. I waited, interested in what else the warden would offer up as reasons for swimming here. Nothing.

I looked out into Walden’s horizon. The sun that was dancing stars from where I stood, along a secret path leading into her depths. Jesi spoke to me at Walden. She spoke in the sun’s winking eye. She spoke in sunbeams shining through the air, all opaque and mysterious, light streaming into the pond and though me into the green depths below. She spoke in swirling whirls of water, warmed by yesterday’s woody slanted rain.

Walden is about healing, you see. Whatever healing you need.


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