After a long day of faculty meetings at Goddard College where I teach, Lise, Karen and I set out for the swimming hole, an old quarry with deep, cold water surrounded by trees, mountain and sky. We were hot, tired, loosened by and sweaty from the yoga we just did, and ready for the water. Stepping in, I was surprised (even if I knew this ahead of time) by the chill of the water after weeks of swimming in bathtub temperatures back in Kansas.
Half-way across the pond, the birds diving — kingfishers and cardinals according to Lise but only swooping blurs to me without my glasses — Lise noticed Karen was doing cartwheels in the water. Although I’ve known Karen for 15 years, it had escaped me that at age 12, she was part of a sychronized swimming team Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire in England in the brief stretches when she wasn’t living in Holland, Singapore, India and at a British boarding school.
I watched her legs rise upside down up through the water as I pulsed myself slowly to the blur of one shore back to the shore of where I entered. The water held depths of cold freedom, waking me up after weeks of huddling around air-conditioners in Kansas. Just entering into this pond and moving along its surface sychronized me although not as elegantly as Karen could wheel herself around, a surprise rising in the middle of the pond.
(Yes, that’s Karen Campbell — read about her, not quite as good as meeting her though.)