I like these kinds of days. Those when the sun shines not too brightly out of a blanched sky and the sand bares its tanned dimples to the heavens. There is hardly a breeze, which I appreciate as the air is neither hot nor cold but it is the atmosphere of peace which draws me most.
It is late afternoon by the time I decide to come. My bathing suit is pulled up and hidden under jeans and an old grey hoodie is bunched over the bulge it makes at my waist. It is probably the late April sun blazing through my car windows as I crawl up interstate 95 which decides me. There I am lulled into a sense of summer despite my car thermometer only registering 57 degrees. Or perhaps it is the act of half changing which has propelled me. I know that if I actually make the turn onto route 2 and then route 126 and into the parking lot I will have to swim.
The previous day, sunnier and warmer, I avoided coming. It is difficult to walk the pond path without wanting to swim, especially if I happen to see anyone else in the water. A hangover from my competitive days. But once I am there and my wetsuit on, there is never any way out but in.
Of the handful of people on the sand, I bump into a swimming friend, a tough Hungarian woman who swims without a wetsuit far later into the fall and earlier in the spring than I do. She tells me the water temperature is 53 degrees “not any warmer than it was the previous week.”
“Oh,” I think, saying nothing. I had hoped it would be a little more pleasant, remembering my feet were cold all the way back along the side of the pond when I swam a week ago.
When I finally disengage from talking and enter the water I don’t wait to register the cold before I plunge in. I find that initial “hit” a little like women after childbirth forget the pains of labor. What I do remember however, is that by the time I have struggled down the side of the pond to Sandy Point, more a beach than a point given the water level is low for yet another season, I am not feeling the cold as much as I would have imagined.
Instead of doing a sharp turn back toward the main beach, I venture out toward the center, heading across toward Ice Fort Cove Point. I remember all the swims last season when I followed this route. I remember how I always associate Jesi’s presence with this particular area. I remember that as much as I am engrossed in the rhythm of the side to side roll, I still need to swim back.
When I bring my head up to check where I am going I look up to the sky. And for just a moment the sun winks at me and I feel like I have finally come home.