Friday, May 3, 2013

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods from One Shore
Today, the warmth of the sun is filling my home and my keyboard.  Literally.  As I sat outside in the sun, I could feel the laptop slowly heating up until I realized that it was time to take it in to cool it off.  It is a beautiful spring day and the temperature reminds me of early summer, not the beginning of May.

I am looking forward to swimming.  I love swimming actually and I am a water child completely, which is suitable as I am a Scorpio.  Actually, I find that I feel my best when there is water surrounding me - I am the women who stands in the shower, the warm water beating down on her, and thinks, "This is it, I am never getting out again."

With large bodies of water, I am exactly the same. I love feeling the pull of the water that threatens to drag you down into the depths.  I used to be terrified of it.  Used to wonder if I would drown the next time I stepped into the cold waves.  I had nearly drowned several times - once in a backyard pool - but when I was 15, I overcame my fear completely and began swimming in a lake on my own.

Actually, it had become a ritual for me that summer.  I would wake up every morning, well before any of my friends would be up, and scramble out of bed.  The short 5 minute jog to the lake would leave me breathless standing on the shores of Lake of the Woods.  I would stand on the shore, gazing at the large rocks on the opposite side, the wild forest stretching out as far as my imagination would take it.

The cold water would look like a slate of gray and I would always hesitate, the cool air prickling the bare skin my bikini wouldn't cover.  Then, with a deep breathe, I would wade into the water and launch myself into its depths.

The lake was bottomless, or at least that was what I was told.  I found out later that it was only 12 metres in depth but when I was 15, there was something exhilerating thinking the bottom hadn't been found.  There was a whole world sliding under my floating body.  I could feel it, just below me, as curious about me as I was about it.

I would swim across the lake, my chest burning as I neared the far shore and I would scramble up onto the rocks and catch my breath.  My teeth would chatter at the change of temperature but I would feel at peace.  Nothing was ever at the lake except the local wildlife and it was exactly how I wanted it.  I would go early enough to beat the daily swimmers and I could imagine that the lake was mine.

Occasionally, I would stop swimming in the middle of the lake and turn over onto my back.  I would float on the gray expanse and think to myself, "This is it, I am never getting out."

My long, dirty blond hair would float on the surface of the water around me, getting heavier and darker the longer I floated on my back. I would focus on that hair.  Feeling its weight pulling me down into the water before I allowed it to drag me into the dark depths.

I would relax into the coolness of the water as it closed over my head, my breath trapped in my chest, straining to get out. I would wait, eyes closed, face turned up toward the sunlight trickling dimly through the water and feel the strange combination of warmth and cold.

When my chest began to burn, I would burst from the water and draw in as much oxygen as I could.  Then I would turn my eyes back to the shore I had come from and return to it.  Usually by the time I managed to make it back, the early swimmers would be walking down the hill to the lake.

I would collect my stuff and head home, my lake no longer mine.  I knew then that I shouldn't have been swimming on my own.  So much could have happened but if it hadn't been for that summer, I don't think I would have loved the water as much as I do now.

And that is what I was thinking about today as the sun was trickling through the tree branches, how lovely it would be to swim in my lake today.

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