Summer Silk

I watched the clock beat down to 4 o’clock, flicking my eyes from the computer and back again.  Then it was there.  The magic hour.  I got my swim bag and made the costume change.  I forgot my sandals. I headed to the Lake in my sunglasses, swimsuit, sundress, and shin socks with bright stars on them and steel-toed boots.

The water was warm.  So warm and comforting, it was like a new skin of a perfect fit.  Each arm entering felt surrounded in swirling silk and soft velvet.  I swam without looking where I was going for a long time.  It didn’t matter.  Nothing mattered.  I was in my favorite place – myself.  Navigating the murky thoughts and feelings and setting them right.

Precalculus left me alone for those moments.  The engineering degree plan and its accompanying stress slipped out the back door of my brain.  The pressure of organizing my next swim class evaporated.  Work was over.

I didn’t think about the memoir I am writing or the children’s books I seem to have collected in my brain that haven’t made themselves into words just yet.  I am often in those works – leaving where I am in trade for memories and mores.

But for now, there was nothing to do or be done.  There was only my friend, the water, and she was unspoiled by the sour taste of stress.  All I thought about was gliding forward with the next stroke and feeling the summer silk swirling around me.  I rested in the joy of this stroke and the hope of the next one.

Somewhere in the midst of that most perfect place, I began to realize that, for the first time over two years, I was not in any kind of pain.  Nowhere.  The consistent pain in my shoulder for years was gone.  My back with its debilitating spasms was quiet.  I was free.  Oh, so free.

I was so happy, I didn’t even know I was crying.

Vermont Swim Tour: Lake Pauline

Our Memorial Day Three Lakes in One Day adventure continued from Elfin Lake to Route 100.

DRIVE

DRIVE TO THE NEXT LAKE! SWIM MORE!

 

 

I had driven Scenic Route 100 one Fall afternoon and was struck by the beauty and the proximity to water all along the way.  I determined I would come back and swim the Route 100 corridor between Ludlow to Killington.

Lake Pauline

Lake Pauline’s location

 

The very first access point we came to was Lake Pauline.  There isn’t really a slipway at the junction of E Lake Road and Route 100, but you can walk around the concrete dam with its gentle and romantic waterfall to access the Lake.  Lake Pauline may not even be its actual name – it’s just the way it’s labeled on Google Maps.

Water under the bridge

The view from the waterfall.

We swam from the southern end of the Lake upstream for a while.  It was really beautiful scenery with the mountains and quaint Vermont homes.  The water was sparkling clear as well.  A touch colder than Elfin Lake, but once you got moving it was really spectacular.

Bill even managed to capture the following intense and captivating footage of three swimmers and a dog:

 

Good Luck

I found four four leaf clovers in a row.  For serious!

The Waterfall

None of us tackled the waterfall, we’ll save that for next time.

Vermont Spring Swim Tour: Elfin Lake

Elfin Lake

Cute little body of water!

Some crazy friends and I decided that a great way to kick off Memorial Day Weekend would be to swim in three different lakes in one day.  Our plan formulated like this:

“Hey!  Who wants to swim in three different lakes in one day?”

“I do!”

“Pick me!”

“Okay!”

“Which lakes are swimming in?”

“We’ll start at Elfin Lake… then we’ll just drive until we find a slipway.”

“Okay!”

“Great!”

Beautiful Ladies

Bold Adventurers!

Elfin Lake is the man-made lake in Wallingford, VT.  It’s quaint and quiet and a good spot for open water swim training.  It’s only about 1,000 feet long, so it’s pretty comfortable and relatively safe to swim in.  Good for a wake-up swim!

We accessed Elfin Lake by parking at the Stone Meadow Entrance and walking in on the trails.  There is a whole network of trails throughout Stone Meadow and around Elfin Lake that are good for running or walking or whatever.  It’s a great recreational facility.

Elfin Lake Temperature Check

Temperature check!

The water temperature was about 74 degrees – plenty warm enough!

Guri and the Stick

Can we just talk about how beautiful this dog is?

Guri was the overachiever of the swim.  She found a stick about as long as her and proceeded to carry it around the lake!  Love that dog.

All the legs

All the sexy legs.

From the public beach to the boy’s camp beach (where Guri and I photobombed a wedding, once) across the lake and back to the public beach is just about 850 yards.

A decent way to kick off a great swim plan!  From there, we headed back to my house for some breakfast and to scheme about our next leg of the great adventure!

 

 

Miss Adventure Speaks!

I am pleased to announce that I have been booked to speak at my first national conference in Indianapolis, Indiana this July!

The Women’s Board of the Car Care Council is an organization devoted to seeing the success of young women in the automotive industry by providing scholarships and educational opportunities.  As a woman in the engineering field and having just returned to school myself, I have a deep appreciation for this vision.

It is truly an honor to be invited to present my English Channel story at their Women’s Leadership Conference.

Women's Board

 

To find out more about the conference and organization, you can check them out here: https://cccwomensboard.wordpress.com/

A Misty Morning Walk

 

I love the morning.  The still silence before the people interrupt with their machinery and voices.  The quiet of the woods as the shift from night to day begins.  The time for reflecting on dreams and planning for the day.

img_20160523_061511919.jpg

 

Today, the mist was thick, shrouding the future with its solemn mystery.  Fog is beautiful in the way it makes you focus on what is immediately before you.  It reminds me of a child in its wonderment, “You have to see this!  No, look at it!  This, this, and only this!”  Indeed, it is all you can see; what is right before you.  Don’t worry about what is ahead, my dear.  Look at how beautiful this place is.  This place.

img_20160523_060707048.jpg

 

It is beautiful, isn’t it?  The birds have returned from winter’s home and fill the trees with song.  The leaves have opened.  The path is full of fading, graying memories…

Why do we grieve so hard for the living?  Because there is nothing wonderful, I suppose, about the death of connection – sometimes it’s murder and sometimes it’s suicide and sometimes it’s natural causes that compel our distance.  There is some deep place of suffering when you are no longer welcome in the place you called home.  It was the place you called home… but don’t come back. I wonder; does everyone lose that place at some point or another?

I am reminded of the fragile nature of strength when my back buckles of its own choosing and I stumble.  Every muscle is called on to keep me from collapsing to the ground.  The pain steals my breath away.  I long for tears to cry.  How I wish there were tears to be cried.

But no.  No.  It is too early for tears.  It is too early for anything but hope.  Hope and dreams and coffee and silence and plans. Today, I plan to heal just a little bit more.

img_20160523_062016866.jpg

In only a moment, the air fills my lungs again.  The dazzling pain is quieted.  I straighten back up.  I find the steps forward along the path of gray memories in the most pleasant company of the birds and the trees and the mist.

“Look at this!  Look at it!  Isn’t it beautiful?!” The fog asks.

That it is, my friend.  The most beautiful place I have ever been.

 

#amileeverydayinmay

My beautiful, accomplished, athletic friend, Genevie (not Genevieve) started this fantastic challenge for the month of May: a mile every day in the month of May.  It was April 29th, I think, when I first saw her challenge go out to her family on Facebook or Instagram or both.

fb_img_1462294170461.jpg

Genevie and Me!

I just decided that I was going to do it, too!

It’s been great fun so far!  A hike in the rain, a couple of early morning swims… I’m going ninja in the next couple of weeks – sneaking my miles into the minutes around my oh so sporadic and ridiculous schedule in the days ahead.  Never has anything so normal been so much epic!

wp-1462293978337.jpeg

A perfect hike in the rain…

The reason this is just so exciting is that I’ve been in really tough physical shape the last few months.  My lower back has been in great pain, to the point where walking and climbing stairs, getting up from chairs and typical things that I always took for granted were really hard.  It’s been getting better with the new things I’ve been doing every day and I finally feel like a mile a day of physical activity is possible.

So weird after swimming 3 miles every day for years.

I believe it was (still is, in fact) a combination of many bad practices, not really knowing how to move correctly in the first place, and being too flexible without having enough strength.

wp-1462293962357.jpeg

TA DA! SPAGHETTI GIRL!!! Flexibility without strength is my super power! #notreally

Currently, I still can’t swim for more than 45 minutes before the pain gets really bad.  I can walk and hike, but I will be in pain when I am done.  But sometimes, just waking up in the morning hurts… and there isn’t really a remedy for that now, is there?  I mean, waking up in the morning is my favorite!

Whatever shall we do?

What do we always do when we meet a challenge?

Get help.  Find an expert.  Listen to them with your mind and your heart and your actions.  Then go slow.  Start off gentle.  Dolcissimo.  Sweetly.  Just like the spring season around us.  One mile.  Just walk.  Or a short swim.  Stretch. Strengthen.  Fail well.  Fail to your own advantage.  Fail so you can try again the next day, even stronger.  It will get better.

It always gets better.