Sunday, December 14, 2008


When I was a child, I loved the water. As a baby, I enjoyed my bath and splashing the water all over the kitchen. As a young girl, I remember "swimming" in the bathtub. Pretending I was an otter and flooding the whole bathroom as I swam back and forth in the tub. I loved to swim. Diving and twisting and turning. Holding my breath. I grew up close enough to the Mississippi river that, even in grade school, My brothers or friends and I would sneak down to the River and play for hours. I can remember jumping off the docks on houseboats, into inner-tubes and paddling to shore. I think I learned to swim when my older brother, Russ, grabbed my inner-tube and I had to get to shore on my own! That was scary, but I made it!

My astrological sign is Pisces (the fish). It seemed appropriate when I was younger. As a young adult, I lived for the beach. Baking my slender young body in the sun's rays and frolicking in the river. I learned to water ski the summer of my senior year in High School. Several of the kids in my class had the use of their family boats and a group of us practically lived on the River.

Even after I got married and had children, I loved the River. My husband and I bought a boat and my children grew up playing on sandbars and splashing in the mighty Mississippi. I loved to jump out of the boat in the middle of the river and swim in water where I had no idea where the bottom was. I was ageless. The River was timeless. I felt like I was suspended in time when I swam under water. That was always my favorite. Stroking and slicing my way through the murky darkness. I was a fish. An otter. A seal. Suspended animation.

As I grew older, I found myself swimming less. The water was too cold. Or I didn't want to put my ever expanding body into a swim-suit. It was too hot on the sandbars and sunburn is bad for one's skin. Riding in a boat is so bumpy and loud. Climbing in and out is awkward. I still like sitting on the beach. At least I think I do. I haven't gone for years. A cruise might be nice. If I didn't have to wear a swim-suit. At least I think I would enjoy a cruise. It's not likely to happen anyway. I'm getting older. I'm embarrassed by my body. And by my droopy eye. I'm no longer attractive. I think that was part of the fun of swimming. The image I had of myself ~ in my mind's eye. That image is no longer one that I enjoy. So I chose not to look.

I don't really miss swimming. It seams more like work than fun now. Too much effort to stay afloat. I'm more comfortable being alone. Playing with fiber and enjoying my animals. I rarely want to leave my home. Swimming seems to have lost it's appeal. Although, slipping silently into the dark murkiness still holds some allure...

To my children: Please do not freak out that I wrote this! I am NOT suicidal. Or even slipping into a deep depression. It's just something that's been swirling around in my thoughts lately and I wanted to write it down. I actually think it's kind of a neat analogy.

I'm OK.! Please don't get all worried and scared so that I can't feel comfortable writing my thoughts on here....

I love you!



  1. Nancy, I totally get it and written beautifully btw. I grew up in a neighborhood that had a pool so I hung out there and my father volunteered as the swimming coach and we competed against other neighborhoods with pools. Seems like several lifetimes ago now. I have fond memories. Times change...

  2. What a lovely story Nancy. Funnily enough I'm a pieces too and I grew up swimming in the lakes, tarns and rivers of the English Lake District as a child. I spent more time under water than I did above it from March to September. Nowadays we don't have such good summers and I suffer from alopecia which shows up rather baldly when my hair is wet. Plus I'm not so tiny anymore. So I've been put off. I do however enjoy canoeing and sailing, and of course I work with water loving mammals, so am never too far away from those beautiful clean wild waters.

  3. Good words. Few are the people that hang onto the internal optimism of youth, as they slide into middle-ish age. Life has a way of 'taking it out of you'. So many things I used to do, that have no appeal to me either. To everything there is a season. I do find myself wanting to retreat further and further into my little nest, with my animals as good company. I could easily become one of those weird hermits. ;-) So I sometimes force myself to go out and about and mingle with folks. I usually enjoy once there, but enjoy even more when I walk into my home afterward. Take care of yourself.

  4. I loved your story Nancy - I was never a big swimmer but grew up on the river, fishing with my brother or if the truth were told, he was fishing and I was reading a good book :) Life has a way as we age to take away the time we had for the things we truly enjoyed when we were younger. I miss those times but I have been able to add other things to my life that make me happy such as my sheep and the farm and I have those fond memories to look back upon.
    I hope your memories make you smile and the new things you love in your life make you happy :)

  5. Terry6:17 PM

    Hi Nancy,

    It was nice to go swimming vicariously in the winter through your lovely story--thanks. I too spent most of my teenage years as a water nymph but don't swim as often as I used to--still do it whenever I have the opportunity, though. I am more bouyant now than I used to be;>) I hope someday you can visit my brother-in-law's cabin up north with us--it's Paradise on a warm summer day and we still swim accross the lake--although we didn't this past year because it was too cold and windy the day we were there. (A bunch of us does it and they always escort the swimmers with the pontoon boat and this year EVERYONE just rode on the pontoon boat...;>)Gordie has a portable blender and grill and we do Margarita's and steak afloat sometimes...not when we're swimming accross the lake, though--that's Serious Business and an annual ritual unless the weather prevents it.


  6. Anonymous8:02 PM

    Well, Nancy, I also feel self-conscious about my body--at least thinking about it with regards to wearing a swim suit. Those people who have skinny bodies.....are not in my family tree :-)

  7. I'm a Pisces too and I have always loved to go swimming. However even as a slender teenager I was self conscious about my body. I'll never forget the time I crocheted myself a two piece swimming suit and actually wore it in the water. LOL. It makes me sad that I didn't go swimming at all this summer. You know...if we get a hotel with a pool for that spinning overnighter that I want to do, we could go swimming - just one condition, NO CAMERAS ALLOWED!

  8. For me, it was all about slipping naked into the chilly waters of that special glacial river, sliding smoothly and lithely above the water, submerging myself and coming up breathless from the cold, feeling the whole-body tingle afterwards, as I warmed back up. The silence beneath the surface is profound, and so is the peace we find there. Methinks you've hit on a near-universal truth, Nancy.



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