Appreciating the Sun and Swimming

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Once, when I was a kid growing up in Australia, I thought the sun was just one of those ‘things’ that was just part of daily life. Sure, we had winter and it rained… even in summer, but memories of my childhood predominantly are basked in sunshine and the radiant warmth of the sun. And happiness for me was always wandering amongst the trees, down dirt tracks into the gullies and across streams in the Australian bush.

I’ve lived in Boston for seventeen years now and the phrase that I was introduced to … “if you don’t like the weather wait minute and it will change” is not new to me. Yet lately I find I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting…

On Thursday I left my apartment and drove down the country lane from Lincoln center under a canopy of tall green leafy trees. The sun was glinting through the foliage from a royal blue sky far above me. Inside my body I could feel the energy of hope bursting forth, almost as if spring was beginning anew. I was on my way to Walden to swim, but the two and a half mile drive through the woods in the sunshine, watching the shadows dance on my windshield and bonnet of my car was for the moment prize enough. How I had been missing the sun!…More than I ever remembered during the whole time I have lived in Boston.
The parking lot was already populated with cars. … Thursday, late morning, no surprise as most of Boston I have spoken to have been feeling similarly about the weather here lately. (Yes, we have more than made up for last year’s drought, …and secretly, I am hoping we do not continue to do so all summer.) Standing at the trunk of my car I luxuriated in the deceptive warmth. Grabbing my shortie wetsuit and long sleeve shirt I decided I wouldn’t possibly need a sweater to put on after my swim. But before I had even walked as far as the roadway stopping to chat to fellow swimmers returning from the pond … “the water’s colder than it was last week” …. “there’s a brisk wind up this morning” …. I returned to my car to retrieve it, wishing I had bought more protective gear with me. I have been feeling the water chilly lately and my last swim, five days earlier, albeit without sun, was unpleasantly cool. But doggedly I have refused to go backwards (as I see it) and put on a full wetsuit. It is spring after all, not fall. The water should be warming, not cooling.

There are no should’s anymore.

When I did glide into the water and almost immediately the balance between left and right took over, I let myself be guided by the rhythm in me. The cold that I registered faded somewhere inside my psyche. Life was perfect and I understood again and again why I miss this (and immediately started making plans as to how to get to Walden for that next swim, through my schedule has made that impossible as yet) … For me nothing compares to the sight of the emerald blue water glistening with sun sparkles dancing on its surface, girted by the tonal variation of the early summer forest green foliage, all tied together under an arc of unending blue sky. And perhaps it is all heightened by the slight discomfort of the shiver of cold up my spine, along the top of my feet and the back of my neck, the effect it has on my perceptions and the knowledge that my body is not designed to endure what my psyche yearns for.

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Today, right now, the sky has clouded. The grey has returned. They tell me showers again.
I have learnt that the sun is not a ‘given’ but a ‘gift.’ And to appreciate it every moment, in and out of the water it shines its powerful and loving warmth on me. And when another opportunity for me to be in the water during moments of sunshine occur I know it will mean more to me than I would have ever imagined…

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