I went paddling and the water actually doesn’t seem that cold– I’m going to jump in tomorrow morning, want to join me?
I texted a handful of ladies last night– and how satisfying to have so many people whom I could imagine would want to go for a May 1st swim in a lake that surely had ice on it not long ago!
There were four of us this morning. Wind rippled the water but the sun was warm. Two of them met earlier for a run so as to warm up. “We can’t stop running until you’re ready to go in,” they said, doing loops in the parking lot.
We stripped down without hesitation. What’s more beautiful than being nearly twenty years past twenty?: I couldn’t have stood there in my younger, slimmer unclothed body and felt at home, at ease like I did today. What a gift it is that that changes with time. There might be nothing better in the world than standing naked on the beach in the morning light with a small bunch of badass lady types.
I ran in first and dove under. It was cuttingly cold on my feet, but I’ve swum this stretch of beach a hundred times, and I went by memory if not by feel.
They followed close behind. In and out, we ran back and warmed up, stamped our cold feet, turned and did it all again. We cried like loons and wondered: is this why they call the way they do– everything tremulous and intense, alive and immediate?
I thought for the umpteenth time that I really should get some neoprene booties. (I stand by socks not disqualifying anyone from skinny dipping). I stayed in until my wrists got numb, until my very center ached, then stumbled back to land to dry off and revel in the cool-warm air, the sun.
We all drove off soon after. It was both surprising and perfect, both sacred and abrupt: the first of May, the beginning of Beltane, busy and bursting with spring tasks and trails to follow. It felt true-to-women: a connection to the ancestors, the pioneers who, sure, baked lemon meringue pies (it wasn’t all washboards and wood chopping), but got ripped from whisking those egg whites by hand.
You have to be a real badass sometimes (always) to do a truly special thing. And we did it. We showed up– better, by far, together.