Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | September 16, 2015

last swim?

September 15th. Pushing the envelope for late summer swims, we arrive at the beach at suppertime, low tide.

The sand is nearly empty. A handful of dogs run joyfully at top speed. A few wet-suited humans bob in the surf, shiny and dark as seals. Not a good sign. Our work clothes drop into a pile on the damp sand. I’m in tank top and underwear. We pad barefoot down the long strand, stick a dubious toe into the froth. “Into the dark, mysterious Mother,” says my friend, bracing herself. We remind ourselves of the Ani DiFranco lyric

                                  “We are 78% water, even our pumping hearts.”

Although daring greatly, our toes recoil from the bubbly small waves of the mighty Atlantic. For the first time in months, the ocean is cold.

I mean, it’s refreshing! Invigorating!
We wade gingerly into low surf. Still unsure. I have never regretted jumping in. But I have never regretted NOT jumping in, either.

I can’t feel my shins. I’m still not sure if I will dive into a dark wave, or retreat back to the beach, salty and sticky only from the knees down. A small wave splashes a critical area, the tipping point is reached, passed. The decision is made for me; I might as well jump. I jump.

The smallest of gasps escapes us; we are mostly glad to be here. To be wet, to be swimming, under a big pale sky, alone now in all the big ocean.

We sink into the medicinal broth. Bob up to our necks in green salt. Surrounded by swirling seaweed, we call to each other like great sea-birds.

“It’s like eating bitter greens! It’s so biting, but so delicious, so good for you. From the first bite you can feel the the nutrients seeping directly into your bloodstream, feeding you, nourishing.”

It’s an Epsom salt bath, only cold, and the dark, dark green of faraway island pine trees. It’s a seaweed massage. We are nurtured, held by the cold water; we feel the core heat in our bodies rev up to compensate. We are ocean-buoyed. Above the waves our washed feet, held aloft, glint in the late sun. Our spines un-kink, relax into weightlessness. We soak like matriarchs, bathe our work-weary limbs: stiff ankles, aching shoulders. Dark opaque waves carry us. We are kick-ass old ladies who can still catch a wave. So we do.

We stay in the water until the big houses along the cliff cast long shadows across the sand. We drive home through slanting golden sunset, past burnished marshes. The first of the migrating geese rest in cornfields. We are glad we came.

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