Come on — dive in

Dear invigorated reader,

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.

My daughter swimming yesterday with our friend Jenny Baer. Today it's raining, so we're glad we took our chance yesterday.

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.




  • Talei Loto says:

    Le sigh. That lake looks so inviting! It’s SO hot here….well for London. 33 c degrees and we are all melting! 😉

  • Sue Mathis says:

    This reminds me of when the Betties went camping and some of the crazier Betties jumped in the lake sans the swimsuits!

  • nana says:

    Oh Eowyn..That looks so beautiful.
    And your words to describe it are even prettier *dreamy sigh*

    Talei over here is 30c already too!.. If only we had this kind of natural pools in the city 🙁

  • Mr. Baer says:

    What Ms. Eowyn fails to mention is after that lusty feeling of life comes the realization you are on the verge of hypothermia, that only a soak in the waiting hot tub will cure. For you metric folk, the lake was only 17.5C for the first 3 meters, with an air temperature of maybe 21C, provided the sun wasn’t behind a cloud. If only to have a coat of hair like Bella the lab, who never tired of jumping off the dock after tennis balls.

  • Melissa Behnke says:

    I’m so glad you got out to swim! I went at my parent’s lake recently when the whole family was there. It was so much fun! We spent so much time in and on that lake growing up. You said it so well – nothing else makes you feel so alive.

  • Eowyn Ivey says:

    This is so wonderful — an international summertime discussion! Talei and Nana, I had to do the conversion online to find out you are having temperatures near the 90s Fahrenheit in Europe. Oh, that’s waaay too hot for us Alaskans. No wonder you’re melting.
    Sue, I thought of the Betties, too. Relieved for my own modesty that you’re not sharing any photos 🙂 That was so much fun.
    Melissa — I’m glad to hear you were all swimming, too. It sounds like you had a fabulous reunion. I loved seeing everyone on Facebook.
    And I’ll vouch for it — Mr. Baer did take a plunge into the lake yesterday, but I’ve never seen a man scramble back on the dock as fast as he did.
    Happy summer to all of you!