Around here, the water has begun to tuck itself in for the winter. I was marveling at the ice forming a thin layer across the top of every single body of water along the two and a half hour commute between home and work. I frowned, discouraged. I guess, maybe, finally… open water swimming for this year, for me, is over.
Every exhale left a mark in the air, a very small cloud all my own. Each footstep, too, left an imprint into the feathery, thickening dust of the snow. The big, puffy flakes were falling in a steady rhythm to their own music. They showered the world in brightness; as if the stars had relaxed too much and left their pristine prisons in the sky to lazily drift to the earth…
It was not so very cold; the cusp of freezing. It felt, more simply, alive than anything else. The way the weather tingled and tickled against any skin; the same sensation accompanied every inhale as the winter introduced itself to my lungs. I hunched inside my light sweatshirt and held the towel tighter around myself without realizing.
I walked the familiar path to the Pond, crossing the trail now boasting markers for snowmobilers and dogsledders. I smiled at the markers. They must have been put up over the weekend. Signs of winter.
She’s going to catch you, Bethany. That was all I could hear in my head. You have to swim faster. You have to go faster! You can go faster!
I’m not breathing too heavy. Not sure where my heart rate is at. Am I working hard enough? Maybe not.
Okay, okay, I replied to myself. I can go faster.