This time, the adventure belonged to another. I was but an observer standing silently to the side, impressed but uninspired to follow.
Walking in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on pristinely beautiful Cape Cod one October, I happened upon one of the area’s many kettle ponds. These freshwater basins —Thoreau’s Walden Pond is one of the better known examples— are virtually self-contained ecosystems dependent upon precipitation for their continued existence. Formed by melted glacial ice, they receive no waterflow from a river or stream. Their clear fresh raindrop waters sparkle blue within settings of verdant evergreen forests. Striking. Captivating. Inviting.
But still… the air temperature was struggling toward 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I was bundled and zipped into a winter coat. And as I admired the vivid crisp color of this particular pond, I saw a splash. I watched for the fish to leap again. Instead I spotted the steady stroke of a swimmer making his/her way through frigid waters. No wet suit. Warmed only by the standard insulation with which our bodies are equipped.
As one with an aversion to cold water -who always does the toe dip temperature test before diving into a lake or pool, I was awed by the swimmer’s fortitude. I watched as he/she reached shore’s edge and then began the long swim back. Methodical. Unwavering. Uncomfortably chilled by my few stationary minutes spent watching, I pulled my zipper just a little higher to my neck and finally turned away. Walking briskly across pine needles to warm myself again…