Yesterday we got a call we had been waiting for. It was time to go jump in a lake.
The sun was shining. We had spent the day working hard: painting the house, installing our new plumbing system, stacking wood. When our friends who live on the shore of the neighborhood lake phoned to tell us that the water had warmed to a balmy 60 degrees, we grabbed our swim suits and headed to their dock.
Just six weeks ago, there was still ice on the lake. Swimming outdoors in Alaska requires a special kind of spirit — bold, adventuresome, some would say slightly nutty. Or at least susceptible to peer pressure.
So … come on. We’re standing with our toes just off the edge of the dock. You’re hesitating, aren’t you? Do it. Jump in. It’ll feel great, I promise —
When you first plunge into the dark, cold water, there’s a brief moment when you think your heart might stop. Then you surface, gasp, screech, then sputter and laugh. You immediately scramble to the dock and climb out.
This is crazy! But when the cool mountain air hits your wet skin, you find yourself shivering. So now what? You want to retreat to the campfire or hot tub? Already? No, come on. Jump in one more time. It gets better, trust me.
The second time, the water doesn’t feel so cold. It’s actually kind of … lukewarm. You are floating on your back, the sun on your face. All you can see is blue sky and the tops of mountains and leafy trees. All you hear is the water lapping against your ears. Occasionally a lake weed tickles your foot. The air smells green, like lily pads and clean water and freshly mowed grass. You kick your feet and splash with your arms.
You have never felt so alive.