Monday, September 19, 2011

The water was fiercely oceanic, bracingly cold

Photo of Seward Park Beach in Seattle by Chas Redmond, Flickr Creative Commons license.

Came here to the lake's east side cocky, post-Puget Sound popsicle toes of two days prior.

That earlier water had exhilarated me. It was so fiercely oceanic, so bracingly cold that we emerged with pinkish-red skin. Our epidermis needed to work -- skin's version of rubbing sticks together -- to re-kindle our body warmth. We were thrilled, and warmed happily in the sun. The outside temperature was mild in comparison.

After that, I figured Lake Washington would be relatively easy. Or at least, easier.

Today was sunny and sharp, but not chilly fall, yet.

Crossing the 520 bridge from the city, the sky and expanse of the lake were blue, the water a deep but limpid navy -- not somber as on some days. Bright motes bounced around the bus's vinyl interior.

In Kirkland, the lake-front is a narrow pebbled beach and a promenade where people walk wearing saris, head scarves, and the usual.

I was water-bound. Shucked shoes, stored other items near a friendly retiree from Cle Elum.

Walking to water, I realized that the pebbles at water's edge were different from other beaches' -- they were continuous, compact, and dug into my feet with insidious variety. 

Jumping from the dock it was, then. The quick plunge is actually my preferred method: into the sweet cool sluice of water, quickly. When it's not the Sound, or the lake in January, the water temperature isn't shocking, but nice, I feel.

I found a span of dock with a ladder on its side. Then I stood, jiggled my feet in nervous anticipation. Felt the audience of people sitting across the water, on benches under spruce trees in the park.

Then I jumped. Felt the water, delicious, cover my head. Felt that fall, the Jacques Cousteau-like propulsion. I felt unable to stop further immersion and unwilling to slow it. 

It was a wondrous human moment of letting go.

The water wasn't cold once I was in. I swam breast-stroke, against waves, and entered the marina. I passed docks, went toward the beach, and returned to my original dock. 

I felt like wondrous swim pioneer, like a Channel crosser.