This week’s blog is written on the heels of Gillie’s post last week describing in gorgeous photos and prose her admiration of water, it’s sustaining and magical properties. We are kindred spirits, water spirits she and I. It is also a week after World Water Day.
My love affair with water began in the womb. My mom loved to swim and her passion became mine.
We float for 9 months cushioned in amniotic fluid, bouncing peacefully, unaware of the impending onslaught of noise lights, and stimulation that will define the rest of our lives.
I am a swimmer and for as long as I can remember wanted to swim in any river, lake, ocean, pool or available puddle.
I always begged my parents to stay in longer and was often dragged out , shivering, and wrinkled. A day to the beach meant more to me than Christmas. My grandmother allowed me to go alone once ,exhausted by my persistent pestering. Into the Ottawa river on the shores of Constance Bay I went , and sliced my foot rather badly on a clam shell. Being a ten year old, as long as I could stay in the water, and the blood loss minimal, I told no one about it . Fearing that the privilege would be withdrawn, I tended to the gash in secret.
A bargaining tool often used by my resourceful parents to modify any challenging behaviour in their young spirited daughter was to withhold swimming privileges. The tool worked, and I became a more helpful, considerate and responsible child, in order to have the freedom to swim.
The phrase I often associate with swimming is “ Don’t go out too far”. Concerned parents repeated this ad nauseum each trip to the beach or lake, and now it has become my husbands mantra. He has been reassured that if I drown or get eaten by a shark that a dramatic end to my life involving swimming is the happiest way to go I can imagine. Besides, the swimming will continue beyond life. My heaven, should I be so fortunate, is a blue lagoon.
The earth surface is covered with life giving water, 70—75 % of it. Our bodies are made up of roughly 60%, our brain cells even more. It is fundamental for all living things, essential for humanity to survive and for this human to thrive.
Dreams about swimming
Often, my dreams involve moats. I live in a simple home with a moat around it, which is brilliant , as it is extremely accessible and one can swim circles round and round without ever “going out to far”.
The other spectacularly real and spiritually profound dream is swimming up a mountain stream. It is aqua blue , has twists and turns, and the destination is nirvana. There is an awareness in this dream that the swim is a destination and life water exists there to fill ones’ spirit and quench the soul. In real life, it is done in kayaks and rather frigid. In dreamland, it is warm and thrills to the bone.
Calleta Buena and Punta Paradise on Cuba’s south shore are two Caribbean favourites. Aqua blue waters teeming with colourful spectacular coral, saw my first octopus there and scuba dove down over a sea wall. The sea whip coral is purple and yellow, with long flexible stems and are absolute visual poetry, dancing in silence, deep below the aqua and into the navy. My own private ballet in the still gurgles of each exhale.
Radazul Tennerife a windy windy town with cold crisp clear royal blue North Atlantic waters. I snorkeled above a group of divers in their bubbles and could see clearly down to the wonders below as they touched and poked about with an instructor. It was only 17 C but stunning. Cement pools dot the island, the ocean is cold and very clean. Each new location must be met with a good swim.
Wasaga Beach Lake Huron.
There is an ocean like expanse of water, where the sunset transforms at each blink of the eye. This swim motivated me to add each of our great lakes to my list.
On the Yucatan I swam in an intercoastal cenota with a manatee, the friendliest odd looking creature. I did not know what it was until I looked it up afterwards. I thought it was a disabled sea lion. I felt so humbled by his quiet sluggish presence.
Absolutely loved the Sea of Cortez in Loretto , no small fish there, whales, seals and stingrays, not for the faint of heart. A grandpa seal growled at me and a large pod of them explored me end to end. The water was crisp and untouched. I was scared and thrilled.
A mad, angry, ocean tossed around many a tourist . Some areas are full of sea turtles. Hot travel tip: stand on the shore of Bridgetown beach, wait for a catamaran full of tourists and swim out. Swimming with these lovely creatures does not have to put you back 100 US.
Anywhere in P-Town all the beaches are grand. You can legally dive for surf clams and the state allows 9 a day per person to bring home, ample for a decent sized chowder. There are several inland ponds that are crystal clear as well and accessible by bicycle.
PEI ( Gulf of St. Lawrence)
What a challenge, dodging the pizza sized jellyfish ! A tennis racket came in handy when trying to get out deeper without being stung. On a good day, there was a clear path out, on a frightening day, one could only hope and hop !
With its craggy shorelines and waves and frigid temperatures, a swim is welcome on a boiling hot day, however, of most value are the delightful treats found along the shore. Early morning , before the crowds makes for amazing photos.
Blue Sea Lake
For over 20 years we were fortunate to take care of a little boathouse right on the water’s edge. A swim was just once second out the door. The clear waters, and sandy shore satisfied the mermaid and merman in our family. It is a must visit each summer for us. 13 miles long and surrounded by mountains, it truly is one of Quebec’s greatest treasures.
What an astonishing spot ! A large hill with thermal waters full of minerals cascade down. At the top of the hill is an old Roman city and a spa. The pool is naturally warm and full of old ruins including large columns, which makes the swimming treacherous, but stunning and magical.
With an injured achilles, walking and winter sports became a rare and often painful event during this pandemic. The most difficult part was not having regular walks with dear friends , the only way to socialize. When all the pools closed, I was transported back to being a petulant child, who was banned from swimming for any number of reasons.
During the month of February with pools closed in Ontario and Quebec, I had more than one meltdown.
Thankfully there is the Sporteque in Hull (reopened) , and tri weekly visits keep me sane.
Swimming is a soothing, cleansing, rhythmic, action that can be quiet, meditative and soul satisfying. It brings one back to their origins , innocent and suspended in bliss, inside our moms. I often plan, dream, scheme and meditate in a pool. My preference is one full hour of straight front crawl. Not an Olympian, but lessons as a child and competitive swimming with the Bayshore Barracudas means managing the flip turns and stroke after stroke with grace and ease. I am slow now, and I plod along and it is silent, cool, refreshing and after half an hour the endorphins kick in. Elation.
Some pools stand out. A magnificent pool, is difficult to define. There is something in the texture, it is smooth and the temperature is usually 20 Celsius. If no one else is swimming with me and I have the pool to myself, it is ecstasy. One such pool in Mexico was always void of humans. It was long and lean and had bridges crossing over top. Rain or shine, I put in my daily hour.
A roadside motel in Ogunquit Maine had a deep cool clean pool without a soul and I had to be dragged out minutes before checkout. It was divine.
A pool in Tuscany , in a winery provided refreshing relief after a cycling accident. It healed up the arm for another ride.
In our neck of the woods, my current favourite is at the Chateau Montebello. We are heading there soon for two nights, which in swimming currency equals three swims !!!
Life is full of passions and this water baby will always be grateful for the early morning swimming lessons, for having lived on both coasts and now residing on our wee lake in the hills. If you come calling, don’t forget to check the lake and bring your trunks ! The final montage is to honour my mother. For it was in her waters I first swam, and she instilled a joy and delight to bathe and dip and frolic. Thanks Mom.