Saturday, April 17, 2010
Only one remedy for this obsession
I’m obsessed by something that can be dangerous, powerful, deceptive, but also gentle and soothing and exquisite. Water. I love watching it tumble vivaciously over rocks or stretch lazily to distant shores. As soon as I’m near it, I need to divest myself of footwear and plunge in - not always the wisest thing to do. Once, after a week of torrential February rain, we hit a beach in San Diego. I’d walked the length of most of it, unshod, of course, before I saw the warning signs. Beware! The water was contaminated by the run-off from all the flooding. Another time I waded into an enticingly clear and shallow stream in Northern Ontario, and was nearly swept off my feet by the swift current. Even I wasn’t adventuresome (or foolish) enough to frolic on a Welsh beach like a group of schoolchildren did - amid snow flurries in April. But watching from a warm seaside hotel, I could appreciate their joyful enthusiasm as they rolled up trousers and splashed about in the frigid water.
It’s no surprise that swimming is my favourite activity. How sublime it is to be immersed in the silky softness, caressed and buoyed, floating between earth and sky, teased by waves. The next best thing is being in an open-top lake kayak, which makes you feel as if you’re suspended in the water. Just reach out and dip in your hand to cool off. And if you stop paddling, a loon might suddenly surface nearby and treat you to his “insane laughter”, warning you that you’re invading his territory.
I wish it were mine for more than a few snatched weekends each summer. I long to live by a lake and watch the changing moods of sky and water, enjoy the exuberance of summer activities and savour the solitude of snow-shrouded winters.
Water haunts my dreams and speaks to my soul, so it’s little wonder that it always figures in my books - never more so than in the Muskoka Novels.