Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

WALKING ON WATER–The pleasures of swimming as if your body were a boat exploring new territory


“They damned a river and called it a lake,” she said. So Austin, Texas and Alton, Illinois have this in common. Lake Merritt in Oakland and Clear Lake in Northern California are really estuaries…with inflows and outflows. A lake by any other name swims as sweet.

A great pleasure in my life is the slow orgasm of putting my body in Clear Lake, as if my body were a boat.

I take a swim as if taking a walk. I wade in first with rubber sandals on my feet, the cross your heart kind, to crunch over the gravel and mud of first contact as the water rises over my ankles and calves and I get to waist level.

It’s sun-warmed on top and cold on the bottom. Can I stand taking the plunge? As I consider this, a school of fish brush against my legs, slippery and cool. Could I catch them with my hands? Okay, if they can do it, so can I.

I squat down, baptizing my body with full immersion and duck walk to a depth where walking turns to swimming. I switch the cross-my-heart slippers from my feet to my hands and they become flippers, and I make my way through the marsh, around the point, and back.

It's Summer Solstice and the natural world is bursting with sun and fecundity. This will be one of my last swims in Clear Lake for some time to come.

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2 Responses »

  1. Janet, your words capture not only the pleasure, but also the feeling of union that swimming in a natural body of water can bring.

  2. I came out of my Aquatics Calesthenics class today feeling as if I should stay in the pool, so much of my body felt heavy, water-logged. Yet, in the pool ,I was light and air. Perhaps we all need to change our "venue" every so often to stretch and re-imagine ourselves. I hope you find a new 'clear lake" in your new surroundings.

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