During these last weeks, these last days that I will venture into the cold waters of Walden I become obsessed. At once I feel the frenetic urge to avoid the cold, especially as I sneak one lazy foot out from under the bedcovers after the other, but as I move more into the morning, my cup of coffee waking me and my day beginning to take shape and plan, I start to feel the edge of desire and need to find solace from the rattle of traffic and appointments. It is then that thought of Walden’s soothing company becomes a salve for my soul.
That is why despite the chill I find myself again nearing Thoreau Cove on the cloudy but warm Wednesday afternoon last week. That, plus the experience that my heightened senses gift me as my body calms and focuses inward as I swim.
The water is placid today. And the sun’s momentary disappearance behind the increasing patches of cloud give it a steely silver grey tone. It rolls off my body like a spearhead. I become engrossed in watching it every turn of my head, wanting to stroke its smooth sheen surface. I want to paint this scene and have it with me all winter, the fading fall colors of the trees, the showering sparkles of light that spray off my rising arms as I turn, that spearhead of water rising above me.
The swim back to the main beach is always a challenge. It seems longer than the outward journey and once I leave the protection of the cove there is little distraction in the choppiness of the water that absorbs my mind like cove does, until I swim adjacent to the sandy expanse of Red Cross beach. There a rhythm takes hold and I am transformed into a metronomic machine. I become the observer and the actor.
As my head turns to the unfaltering rhythm of my stroke I see to my left, on the sand a group of walkers marching two by two down the length of the beach. To my right, the willowy reflections of the trees bend weeping into the still waters below the sun, a ball of fiery silver sparkles shooting branches of light in all directions. To my left, the last of the walkers, straggling and the now deserted sand, deep wet yellow. Right again and the shimmer of tree tenticles reaching out to touch me. And me, the cold, knifing into my bones. And the rhythm of my hands and my feet beating water. Breathing.