I have noticed these past two weeks that people seem friendlier at Walden Pond. They smile when I smile at them instead of avoiding eye contact and pretending I am not in their direct line of vision. Perhaps, everyone lets out a cleansing breath after Labor Day. The kids are back in school; the beast of frenetic desire to travel and see and do everything has quieted down; cool night temperatures have replaced sticky humidity.
Last week, a tall woman with gorgeous, wavy, silvery-grey hair slowed to let me pass, then engaged me in conversation about all the people who come to swim early in the morning and could I believe the orange sign stating that running along the pond trail was explicitly forbidden and joggers would be ticketed accordingly. One fellow preemptively told me good morning as we passed each other on the trail!
I am enjoying the quiet at the pond and the joyful spirit I sense from the animal, insect, and plant worlds. All the spirit from these realms seems to meet in this place as has become a haven for me in the urban wilds of Massachusetts.
As I approached my quiet swim spot, which I like because it is unassuming and well hidden by shrubs and overhanging branches from much taller trees, I passed a family with two tiny children. When I was just past them, I hear one child exclaim, “This is the life, dad.” He could not have been more than a few years old. It was wonderfully precious and quite poignant.
I completely agree. This is the life. The 30 minutes I spend between earth and sky, enveloped by the water every Monday and Tuesday morning are the most beautiful moments of my week. Sure, there are others, but there is something so freeing and glorious about slipping into water and tucking my head underneath.
At one point, I popped my head about the surface and looked around. I was the only person in the water, the only human being making ripples with the water striders.
Without the usual splashing and thrashing of arms slapping, the water was like glass—a mirror for the tree line and sky. With each circular stroke, my arms created a shifting kaleidoscopic pattern of textured shades of green and blue.
The water may be cooler these days, but my desire to be in it has not yet waned.