Swan dive.

19 07 2019

We gathered down at the beach late Friday afternoon, drinks in hand, and sat with the vista of the north end of the lake set before us like freshly painted art, the mountains arced on each side, fading from greenish gray to the far off hues of deep blues. We laughed, visited and caught up with each other, setting the tone for the girls weekend before us.

I admit I was eyeing up the dock long before my sister whispered into my ear. Even though it was on the cooler side, I’m generally not one to miss out an opportunity to plunge into Kootenay Lake. None of us had our suits on, however, but when Kim subtly nudged me and suggested we jump off the dock, swimsuits were not a concern of mine. Winning, however, was.

We ran onto the dock while the girls on the beach hooted and hollered. While I ran, I stripped off my shorts and top, intent on winning the race AND launching myself off the dock in what I hoped would be a graceful, perfectly executed dive into the water. Right down to straight legs and pointed toes.

I stole a quick glance behind me and saw I was clearly in the lead. Full speed, I ran, with the edge of the dock a mere eight feet away, and the cool blue-gray waters of the lake beckoning me like a sweet lover.

That was when my left foot collided with the pointy edge of a metal boat cleat… And I went sprawling, catching my right foot under me with enough instinctual presence to flounder rather than fall. I windmilled in an attempt to prevent a full naked body skid along a very slivery aged dock and instead, launched off the edge in a frenzy of arms and legs, and, also, I daresay, bare bum in the air, and spectacularly bellyflopped into the lake.

I came up, sputtering and coughing to see my sister bent over in absolute hysterics. She managed to ask if I was okay in between bouts of guffaws. I climbed the ladder and stood in all my glory, dripping wet, gave my audience on the beach a loud WOOOOOO-HOOOO and then looked down at my foot. It… well it wasn’t broken, but it was instantly swollen and rather pinkish-red. Not a speck of toe nail polish remained on three of my toes. The polish was, as we discovered the next day, embedded in the boards as three long purple streaks, as if to say “Kris was here… and here… and here…”

It could have ended badly, but I’d rather not think about that. I’d rather think about how I provided a good laugh for my friends and I also that I WON.

 

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And so we mourn.

19 09 2018

In retrospect, my blog posts always seem to have the same essence and theme. My lake, my friends, the seasons. It’s a rich flavour, a repertoire I feel isn’t overly tiresome, and yet I find myself second guessing myself every time the mood strikes to write for fear that it might seem redundant to some.

Nevertheless, I pondered the last few days about this and decided to write on!

The sunlight these days is low. It shines differently, doesn’t it? A deeper yellow, a brighter cast. It’s warmer in its glow and cooler in its warmth, such a strange dichotomy. It shines on the waters of my lake, seemingly enticing me to plunge in, but my soul and my body know the chill and coolness it hides in its sparkling invitation. Yet I feel like I should, just one more time. Strip down, run in, let those waters enfold me in a brisk embrace, flooding me with icy affirmations.

The leaves are turning. It’s earlier this year, don’t you think? Given the fire season and smoke and cool weather that hit us in mid-August, I am not surprised. Even the last few weeks in September have denied us those hot days and crisp nights. The worst fire season in BC’s history has taken a toll in everyone’s experience. Beach days were cut short, camping trips dampened. No evening campfires. Long walks disrupted by lung-choking smoke. This demoralized me. This demoralized everyone. It evoked a deep sadness within my heart and soul for all of us. We live all year in sweet anticipation of these Kootenay Summers and to be denied even a few days of its offerings, to be denied the heat, the sun, the pure intense bliss of it all, it’s like the loss of a love, a summer fling cut short, a too-soon breakup of an intense love affair that takes your breath away. And so, the natural progression of the changing of the seasons was cut short and shoved almost violently in our faces.

But I digress. Above all, the moments that come along to gift us sweetness are always here, present and ready to whisper lovely reminders in our ears. As I left this morning on my early morning run, the coolness of the fall-ish air enveloped me. My dog was giddy, as usual. Yes, I was cold, but the air. The air was like a vitamin-infused oxygen bar all around me. I ran and I breathed in, nourishing every cell in my body.

So we mourn this loss, as we should. The loss of those days that shine like diamonds, as laughter echoes into the dusk and holds us to the promise of one more summer. Those diamonds, they sparkle and beckon. But we need to remember that there are also pearls, that glow within from a cool golden hue and allow us to revel in being present no matter what. And it’s time to don a different jewel, to wear it with gratitude as the season turns.

 





You know, it really it is the little things

5 07 2018

I woke up this morning with the anticipated July sun finally beaming in through the windows, and after my coffee and shower, I egged on my dog Jed to get him all riled up for his morning walkies. Well, could you blame me? He was laying outside my door, completely splooted (google it) out with his front paws crossed in anticipation, his brow furrowed as if in consternation about whether or not he’d get to go romp before breakfast. Hint: he always does.

He was delighted as always, performing cutesy spins and giving his high fives as I asked him if he “wants to go for a walk”. We headed out into the early morning, the air gently warm and the crows announcing our journey with raucous caws.

Sometimes we run. Sometimes we walk. There are times when I intersperse lunges and jump squats to make sure my arse doesn’t sag too much. But whatever I do, Jed comes with me. Tail high, prancing with pride. Isn’t it sweet to give your dog what he loves the most?

We did a quick route this morning as unbeknownst to him, he was heading up the mountain with the birthday girl and her dad for a day of ATVs, fishing and hiking. As we rounded the corner home, I stopped to pick a few sweet peas for a birthday bouquet and happened to look up as I began to head home. There in the sky, hung like a mobile over a baby’s crib was a giant Blue Heron. She (he?) was straight as an arrow, neck folded in, legs extended. The moment stopped as I just stood there to watch this creature soar over me. Beyond the twitter of chickadees and zzzz zzzz zzzz of the hummingbirds and the sweet songs of the swallows, this giant of flight was silent. I stood. I watched. And after this bird passed over me, I finally breathed deeply and regained my venture home when I noticed two bald eagles soaring together. My breath stopped again. The two birds circled around together, hanging briefly in the updrafts of the air below. Not a wing was flapped. They were close enough so that I could see the white feathers of their heads and the rich brown of their bodies. Jed stood patiently by as I stood still again, trying with all my might to absorb the beauty, the peace and the simplicity of this moment. After a few second they dispersed, perhaps spying a fish or two rising in the waters below.

I know it may have looked silly, but I clasped my hands in a prayer pose in front of my heart and breathed a word of thanks. To who or what, I’m not even sure. But the gifts given to me, simple and sweet, were too good to not be grateful for.





How about you?

24 02 2018

Oh I’m ready. I’m so ready.

I’m ready for open windows and soft breezes that clear that stagnant wintery dreariness from the rooms. I’m ready for sunlight creeping in at 4 am and the incessant chatter of birds outside my window. I’m ready to witness the patches of tired dirt-caked snow grow smaller every day and to bear witness to the tight little buds of leaves as they ready themselves to unfurl in  bursts of vibrant green.

I’m ready for evening walks in the spring air. I’m ready for washing the winter gear one last time and tucking it all away. I’m ready for the soft rains that nourish the soil and enhance the scents of new life all around us.

I’m ready for the daring of snowdrops and the audacity of tulips, sometimes reaching up through leftover snow that the sun hasn’t reached yet.

I’m ready to shake out the dirt and dust of being inside too much. I’m ready to bike along my lake and to hear the cries of the ospreys as they return to their summer home. I’m ready to breathe deep and fill my lungs with spring.

I’m ready to grill burgers outside and linger on the deck until dusk. I’m ready for beers on the beach with my dearest friends. I’m ready to hear the distant motors of boats on the lake and sprinklers with their rhythmic tick lulling me into a meditative state.

I’m ready to run without fear of slipping on ice. I’m ready to absorb the warmth of our sun. I’m ready for the quiet joy of rolling out my yoga mat in the early evening air.

I’m ready to embrace all the gifts that spring and summer are eager to bestow. I’m so ready.

How about you?





A little ebb and a little flow

26 08 2017

It’s looking pretty fatigued out there these days. Limp and exhausted, branches support the faded echoes of spring bravado. Brilliant greens are no more than a memory of the beginning of summertime; every leaf drained of its glory, a muted effort to stay for just a bit longer. Sunlight casts a different angle through my windows, lighting up the dust motes dancing and much to my chagrin, lighting up every single dog hair on my wood floors.

There is just under a month of summer left, but it’s the somewhat melancholic summer days that eke out a sadness in my heart. A panicky flutter of my soul, eager to wring out every last delicious drop of it. Did I swim enough? Did I sit on my deck and watch the stars come out enough? Will I have feasted on summertime enough to tide me through the dark days, the cold nights that are on their way?

The answer of course is yes. I have closed my eyes while floating in the Bay, breathing in that intoxicating summer smell. I have savoured bites of huckleberry crisp, berries that we picked early in the morning, my eyes almost tearing up at the tart and sweet of it all. I’ve marveled at the gift of walking my dog at dusk in nothing but shorts and a tank top, that warm air kissing our skin. Sundays over at Sunshine Bay with friends, that hot sun searing on our shoulders, and the only way to cool down is a plunge in the lake.

I’d gladly have more summertime. I love that heat, the early sunny mornings. Those late nights, hearing music echo from a beach party across the lake. Bike rides and peonies, lawn mowers and hummingbirds. I feel more me in the summer, I can’t explain it better than that.

But our seasons, they are part of us. We morph into each one, some reluctantly, others with excitement. There is magic in every seasonal change. There is joy found with crisp fall days and leaves crunching under our feet. Hot tea instead of iced coffee in the afternoons, sweaters and boots find their way from the darkness of our closets. Soups and bread nourish us. That brilliant blue of a fall sky demands our admiration and yes, we admit its beauty. Boisterous oranges and reds and yellows are painted on our landscapes, and yes, it is no more than simply breathtaking.

We ebb and flow, like tides. It’s not without a measure of dispirited energy for some. For others though, Autumn is their favourite season and they’ve trudged through the summer heat with the sweet knowledge that it is on its way.

These last few weeks of summer that are laid out before us demand us to enjoy. Have one more BBQ, a couple more days on the boat. Swim a few more times. Marvel at your tan lines. As we meander through these last of the summer days, we give in to it, we acquiesce to Nature.

And we find joy and beauty in it all.

 





Liquid memory

1 08 2014

The rise and fall of seasons is my life’s heartbeat. With each turn of the planet brings echoes of seasons of the past. The whisper of woodsmoke on a crisp fall morning or the blast of spring air rushing in the window: doesn’t really matter what it is, but these flashback moments evoke in me memories of long ago. Truthfully, they can fill me up with giddy anticipation or blanket me with melancholy.

But every year, every single year as the snow melts and the days lengthen, that sun shines strong and the heat grows, I grow too. I am more than me in the summertime. My roots cling deeper, my existence is more tangible. I feel more, I laugh more, I love more. Summer awakens something in me that slumbers the rest of the year.

The way I mark my summers now are by epic swims in the lake. I call these my prodigal swims.

These are what I recall when it’s dark at 4 pm. I cling to them, knowing that yes, summer will return. The memories of water dancing around my body, quenching my spirit, the balm to my very cold soul in mid-January. (and, yes, I know I go on about how much I love winter. And I DO! I love skiing and all that winter brings, but let’s be real here. Nothing beats sun-kissed shoulders and warm summer days.)

My favourite time to swim is in the evening. I sometimes run and reward myself with a naked cool down dip at my chosen spot along the edges of Queen’s Bay. The water here, I don’t know. It’s magical somehow. Slightly warmer than The Arm, of course, but there is a profound happiness I get by plunging myself in the water. Baptism? I could go as far as using that word.

These are long and relaxed swims, as I slowly move out far and deep into the Bay. There is distant hums of boats narrating these evenings. The flies hover over the surface, which by this time is usually like liquid glass. If I am lucky, rainbow trout and kokanee rise up to feast all around me. I swim, as the lake smell permeates my skin. It is a scent of warm air, of clean water, of fresh fish. Of joy.

I am usually alone. I consider the half hour swim a gift to myself. One where I don’t have anything to do but just be. I float on my back, filling up my lungs and I dangle on the surface, my eyes closed, ears submerged. I relax as much as I can. The water muffles the sound, and sometimes I lose myself in it, and when I do open my eyes, I am always slightly surprised that I haven’t really moved that much, because I feel transported in some meditative way. Transcendental enlightenment through H2O.

I always swim when I get the chance. I don’t want wintery regret, thinking I didn’t swim enough during the summertime. I am ravenous with these swims, they nourish my need. I am fulfilled. I am me.

 

 





Anticip………..ation

27 03 2014

Oh March.

You silly little month. Sometimes you gift us unbelievably warm days where our cheeks and noses pink up from the sun and bare arms are warm and tingly. Days where a cold cider or beer tastes so good, sipped on the deck while that sunshine warms up everything. You’ve pruned, raked, burned, plucked, mucked everything, and then you reward yourself in the late afternoon on your dusted-off deck furniture you’ve finally rescued from storage.

Days that are the promise of what is to come. Hot days, sun, beers with your best friends. Sitting on the deck in midsummer, the sounds of sprinklers and motorcycles hum in the distance. God, summertime is just the best isn’t it??? I mean, I love every season for its own distinct beauty, (you all know me + winter = skiing/heaven. I love my winters SO much)  but nothing and I mean NOTHING beats summer time.

So, this brings me back to March. You tease us with warm days, delightful foreshadowing, and then you drop the bomb on us: freezing rain, sleet, 8 cms of snow, wind. It just SUCKS. You know what March is? TRANSITION, my friends. Where we all have to dig deep and bear with it. BREATHE IN AND OUT. Just like birth, those last 2 centimeters of dilation where you think you’re going to lose your freakin’ mind…. Take each day with whimsy and humour. Hahah, Mother Nature, fuck you and that muddy slop out there, crusted over with a sliver of ice… I am wearing a skirt with no leggings and I DON’T CARE.

One day soon it will be April and tulips everywhere will be standing proud, chock full of Hallmark Easter colours. Sun will shine and bike rides will be new again. Baseballs and soccer balls litter the deck. Those damn birds wake us up at 4 am with their incessant and delightful chatter. (It’s kind of okay to waken that early; the light and breath of air is alarming in its pleasant vigour) Chocolate eggs and coffee in the morning? Yes please.

May is soft rains and the full moon over the “Swooping Swallow” across the lake behind Procter. Mosquitoes squeal incessantly in your ears and hummingbirds remember their feeder in your yard. Windows wide open! If you’re lucky, you’ve been wearing shorts for a few days and your legs are no longer blindingly white.

June can be a bit of a dirty whore around these parts. She brings epic rains, closed soccer fields and floods down Baker Street, where ski bums hoist their kayaks out and paddle around the main drag while people laugh and take pictures to post to Instagram. Everything is lush. Trees are drunk with spring rain, the green is almost gaudy.

Finally, the heat arrives with July. When it’s warm at 6 am and HOT by 9. Gardens act like leggy teenagers, growing inches overnight. The water in our lake no longer bites, but envelopes us. Light lingers late into the evening allowing lazy swims just before bed.

This is when my soul exhales, even though I haven’t even been aware she was holding her breath. We made it another year, summer is finally all around us. We can relax, paint our toenails and laugh more freely.

It is all in front of us, every single delicious moment. Take a look around and savour it, this wanton anticipation. The reward is almost here.