On the nearness of water


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Lake Ontario is slightly to the south of me. I don't think much of it as a body of water, but I know it's there, and I can easily go to it if I need to.

I grew up on the banks of the St Croix River, which is calm and wide on the Canadian side, turbulent on the American. An old neighbour said of that part of the river, "Every year, she takes one." One so taken was a great-uncle of mine,who drowned at age seven. His sister, my grandmother, was paranoid about anybody going near the water, but her daughter, my mother, loved swimming anyway.I got lost once, when I was 4 or 5. I had set out to visit the aforementioned grandmother (I thought it was a good idea). My poor parents were scouring the riverbank while I was playing with a chance-met little boy (I had forgotten that I wanted to visit Nanny) in the completely opposite direction from her house.

Fifteen miles away was Passamaquoddy Bay, the ocean. Driving to St. Andrews was our Sunday entertainment, for the beauty of the sunsets and the leisure of the shore, to collect shells and skip stones. I never learned to skip more than 4 or 5, but Dad was a 10 skipper nearly every time.

Our lake was Lake Utopia, beautiful white sand and crystal sapphire water. It has its own Monster now, not exactly on a par with the Loch Ness one. Lake Utopia is very shallow and you have to wade forever to get in over your head. The monster must be 5'9", tops.

Ocean swimming was New River Beach, where my parents honeymooned. We spent a day there the year before my mother died, and found the cottage they had rented. I look forward to the day when I can carry my grandson into the waves.

Of the creeks which are tributaries of the St Croix, one runs through my aunt's farm where we have the family picnic every year. Traditionally the oldest carry the youngest into the water for a first swim. This was until recently always my mother, and none of my aunts can be persuaded to take her place, so I guess it is me and Cousin Jane now, and I hope my grandson Jamie will be in my arms.

Every August I get back home, and the first thing I do is walk across the street and down to the river and wade into it, my life flowing behind me and ahead of me and with me, in cool and stillness.

Mine, mine. Mine.

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Canada sounds nice

It is nice and we are all afflicted with niceness in varying degrees. Many try to escape to the States and become mean, but few succeed. Even Conrad Black is getting nice in his old age.

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Very nice. Fascinating. I like the "Mine, mine. Mine." I feel like that often.

You might find the video here and link interesting: http://www.crossfit.com/mt-archive2/003896.html

Mikee, thank you. I can't remember not being in the water, but I think I remember learning to swim, as opposed to floating. It was at Lake Utopia aforementioned, beautifully clear and you could see all the way to the bottom. My father stood by me and said if I moved my arms and legs, the water would hold me up the same as it was already doing. I was scared and he said, if the water did not hold me up, he would. He put his hands underneath me in the water.

he had always told me the truth so I flailed my limbs around, and I moved in the water, and ever after I swam.

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  • 2 years later...

I went back, and swam again, in the life giving water of family and history and the inescapable older self. My son brought his girlfriend (if she didn't like New Brunswick she would never be his bride, but she did, and I think she will) and I brought my stories and my perpetual need for transport (there is no bus service in southern NB due to Market Forces, thus everyone must be fetched from Saint John or Moncton or Fredericton if they do not have a car).

The water is clearer and more welcoming than I remember. At the family picnic my oldest uncle hugged me hard, and I don't remember him ever hugging me before. My cousin says he is getting more sentimental as he gets older. At my cousin's cottage the lake is luminous and deliciously cool, inviting you to float forever with the sun on your face. My cousin has a kayak now, but I know I would overset it . maybe next year.

When I will step into a new river, float in a new lake.

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Images of peace, family and community, well done.

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After reading this thread I started to sing -The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald-.

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