|A selfie of the author in two wetsuits and her pink bathing cap.|
The tide was racing in this morning, the undertow was stronger than I ever remember it at Town Beach. I felt myself swept off my feet and pulled out in seconds. Town Beach is generally tame enough for little children. The thermometer that I placed in the water read 61degrees this morning, the 18th of October; the ocean is cooling down several degrees every few days. Just three days ago it was 64 degrees. I keep a close eye on how low can I go. I try to get out the water for as many mornings as possible. It seduces me to do my own variety of aerobics - an odd combination of swimming, jogging and stroking. I like walking into the ocean without hesitation or stutter. I like pretending I cannot feel the icy grip of it at my ankles or the rising chill of it as it glides between my wetsuit and my skin. I started wearing two wet suits in the beginning of October. The double insulation makes the time I spend submersed more bearable.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the lingering members of the Polar Bear Club congregate outside my window at Inkwell Beach, often they are out when I am. During weekday mornings they range from three to eight in number. The Polar Bear Club grew to 83 strong last summer. At this time of year, there are just a few die-hard women who are right outside the window of my condo. It seems that people dedicated to exercise, water, and the satisfaction of working out with friends gravitate toward the Polar Bear Club. Did I mention they sing for the thirty to forty minutes they are in the ocean doing aerobics? Jacob’s Ladder, and other traditional songs start them off. Counting, scales, anything to distract them from the seriously cold water. They have repeatedly invited me I join them. I am intimidated and uncharacteristically shy. I do my own little thing for twenty minutes and I am out.
When I was in the grocery store this afternoon, I overheard two women talking. One of the women swims over at the East Chop Beach Club. I stick to my stretch along Town Beach. While I walk, with the water up to my chest, I keep a keen eye out for what moves below. I see a landscape as beautiful as any I have seen. The sand forms perfect moguls, rippling for as far as I can see. The sand arranges itself in the perfect inverse of the waves above it. I like to watch the sunlight pierce the waves as clouds race across the palette of the sky above. There is a sandbar, that, when I time the wind and the tides just right, I can step up and suddenly be knee deep, no more pushing forward to press through the water at chest height. A reprieve. Then back to the hard work. I find my mark on land – I go from the landmarks of the jetty to the Ocean Park bandstand then turn back again. Usually, that turn is back into the waves.
I persist. It is cold. The waves slap down the front of my wetsuits. I make it a habit of wearing a pink or white bathing cap – something anyone walking above me on the sidewalk might see if I were to come under attack by seagulls, Canadian geese or ensnared in seaweed. My most fervent hope would be that, were I swept out to sea, someone, anyone, on the shore might catch a glimpse of my white or pink cap and call for reinforcements.