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In my new book, The Last Layer of the Ocean, I describe my uneasy relationship with water. I had always considered myself a land person until I moved to Alaska. There, I was confronted with water: the ocean was a living thing, influencing everything we did. I grew to understand water and to love it.
Still, I have never felt completely confident in water. I like open water swimming, but I still like to wear fins, and I hug the shore. During a spate of strangely warm days, I convinced myself that swimming season was here. My neighbor's son looked askance when I told him I was going to Kinney Lake to swim. "It's going to be so cold," he warned.
I had touched the water the other day; it felt warm. Brimming with confidence, I drove to the lake to find a bevy of fishermen. Nobody was swimming, but nobody ever did here but me. The fishermen stared as I donned a swimming cap and fins. I had forgotten my wetsuit, but how cold could it be? I launched myself into the water.
With the first stroke I knew this was a mistake. The water was shockingly cold. I made it a few feet before giving up. The fishermen stared as I crawled shamefully away. At my car, I pondered. I had an old pair of running shoes. I decided to run a few miles in my wet clothes to salvage the day. The fishermen stared as I ran off.
|Ruby thinks the water is just fine.|
Okay, so swimming was out. Paddleboarding would have to do. I'm late to the paddleboarding game, because I was always fearful of falling in. I've been surprised to find that it's easier than I thought. My friend Marathon Chick and I paddled serenely across Wallowa Lake. The water is so deep and clear that we could see the bottom--and, unfortunately, the corpse of a deer. It must have fallen through the ice last winter.
We are going to have a few really hot days before the more normal temperatures set in. Do I dare return to the scene of the crime to try to swim again? Will the fishermen once again have something to stare at? Stay tuned...