Today is the first day of summer. For the next few months we'll relish the miracle of air conditioning, seek the shade, fill up our little pool, hydrate hourly and paddle our kayak in the hope that we'll feel even the slightest breeze. Just when I'm suffering under the anvil of a noontime sun and dense, suffocating humidity, I will remember how I spent the last three weeks of spring.
This month we paddled our kayak on the pristine waters of Hamlin Lake, where shores are protected, fish are plentiful and giant white swans perform a graceful water dance, making playful circles around their fuzzy gray cygnets. In our boat, heavily burdened with three adults and a 75 lb dog, we shakily made our way out into the expansive blue of Lake Michigan, where seagulls dove and squawked above our heads. Near the mouth of a river that spills into the largest of the Great lakes, we stopped for a swim. This body of fresh clear water allows one to swim with eyes wide open, where fish are magnified and the sandy bottom slumbers in a wavy motion, swishing slightly with the touch of our toes. On the beach, all sound is muffled. We sat with glistening droplets of water on our skin, marveling in the silence and the endless blue upon blue horizon. Families with young children splashed nearby, but it was as if we were in the middle of a silent film.
This month we walked along a bay and into a harbor on Lake Huron, where gentle breezes lift all the hair on one's head with each swirling whoosh of air. A few people were out, making us feel connected to society, yet far removed from the congestion and impatient striving of our bustling city.
This month we also jumped into the rolling, crashing waves of the Atlantic, tasting the salt on our lips and feeling the rub of exfoliating sand.
This month we drove over bridges spanning the Abermale Sound, where last year we pulled blue crabs out of their hiding places using string and turkey necks.
This month we've also paddled out into our city's reservoir, where swimming and construction are not allowed. We also swam with our friends at the local pool, and shared a crowded splash at the Y.
Summer has just begun, and already I have lived this season to the fullest, seeking relief in bodies of water. So much that was troubling me has now been washed away. This month I've dived down deep, floated along, struggled against the current, held my breath, splashed about, submerged my being, touched the bottom and rose to the surface for air.
I have also discovered that sometimes, the most heavenly body of water can be found inside one's bathtub at home. While my senses and my soul have been refreshed and recharged from travel, the bathtub at home is the perfect temperature for my overheated suntanned skin, a perfect sanctuary from the elements of sun and wind. Here there are no sharks or jellyfish, no rip currents or stray fish hooks. There are no sharp rocks or shells to scrape the bottom of one's feet, nor careless souls who let their dogs pee on the sandcastle you built with your son. There is only peace and quiet and cool refreshment.