Nothing feels like such an abrupt assault to the body as a change in weather conditions such as Boston has experienced this past week. From sun and seventy degrees a week ago to gale force winds, rain and forty degrees today… Yet not only the body, but the mind is also reeling… It is not yet November.
And I have not finished swimming for the season (or so I think!) I hear a voice in my head rebelling against my truncated sojourns into Walden’s depths.
Yet today I am standing on the shore of Thoreau Cove in my winter coat and beanie, my sneakers planted firmly on wet sand, breathing deeply, feeling the cold damp air wrap itself around my fingers. The rain drops are needling my face and my eyes are closed against the blur of vapor filled air. I am walking, the first of many winter walks I imagine as my visits here take on a different shape to fit the season. It is too cold and bleak to swim and I am not alone in thinking this. There are no swimmers at the pond this morning. The wall is vacant of towels and bags. The beach is deserted. I only pass a couple of groups of walkers clad as I am in winter coats and hats on the path adorned with its colorful, now sodden leaves.
I listen the whisper of the water, or it roaring, depending on where I am listening from; Where have you gone? it asks. Will you be back? And I wonder too… Will I swim again? Tomorrow? Next week? To say a proper good bye until next Spring.
It was only Tuesday that I swum last. The weather wasn’t great. Temperature in the forties and cloudy. But the water felt fine. I put an extra shirt under my wetsuit and wore light neoprene gloves to combat the windy day. You learn these things, how the elements will affect you. But when I got out and tried to take my gloves off my hands were too weak. It was the cold… When that happens I know it is near the end for me.
So why even think of going back?
It is the memory of swimming into Thoreau Cove. The water calming and suddenly feeling I am gliding like a skiff along her surface. Sleek and smooth and unbelievably gracefully. I want to hold my breath because I have found some synchronicity inside the water. I have become it. And when I turn my head there are fine slender lines, green, blue and silver, streaming along the water surface just as I am. Perhaps I also am a slender silver line streaming along the water surface, like the light from distant headlights move along a road. I am part of this and it is perfect. I hardly dare to breathe for fear of disturbing the synchronicity.
That is why I want to go back. To find that place again. To feel both the exhilaration and the tranquility of existing inside it.