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When I swim, the ocean and I cannot bear to part.

The evening with sinking sun beckoned me.
My shiny blue bicycle led me to a tiny paradise affectionately known as "the little Bahamas."
It was unexpectedly appropriate.

Shallow water, still as it can only be with no wind, no boats, slopes quickly downward across the gritty sand, rocks and shells (a clump of blue mussels clinging to something so thickly it became invisible) where it tints silver-blue and in its rare clarity, with the welcoming spread of sand underneath it, it seduces me to explore its depth up to my thighs.

In wintertime I feel the same,
only I do not indulge.
In summertime I cannot fight it, cannot break away and so as I move to retreat, I turn back to admire it, desire it. it implores, and I wade back in.

Standing it feels as though I am not in the water at all.
I feel neutral, it has become an extension of my skin, the air.
Depth sparks curiosity as I see more gentle sand (more sweet than the rocks that typically grace this shore) and move toward it, expecting a chill but instead, the rush is how warm it feels.

As my toes leave the water they always search for one last feeling.
Fetching my shoes allow me that only I do not yet dwell, as there are months ahead of me of beckoning, surrendering, pausing.
Until September. And here it is only the second day in June already warm like August.
And because I could not resist I tried for a change.

Five-thirty on the hottest day so far and, at a crowded beach, I waded. Wanted to feel it on the tops of my knees.
But nine o'clock, sun disappeared, light fading, insatiable, that second dip led me to the still evening water in a whole other place.
And two people with four dogs agreed on the weather as I watched her plunge completely.

Left alone, somewhat reluctantly I left the temptation to swim for another day, and looking back from atop the stair the moon overhead danced on the crests of waves, stirred by a boat at last tiny sparkles and I thought, "I was just in that water"
And wanted to be so again.

But I left, and my bicycle took my damp legs and arms to the park, past glowing houses water lapping audibly at the shoreline.
It was quiet.
Not quite dark, a few walkers left and I could not resist the swings. My bicycle agreed.

Warm air brushed over my bare shoulders, unexpectedly. Nine forty-five, sundown, waterfront... warmth?
Not a motion without fragrant, gentle air across my face, pulled consciously into my lungs.

In encroaching darkness the bicycle led me home into the heat of the house again.
And the beach calls.

Message to Canadians: Our ocean keeps us alive, physically and emotionally, and we must return its generosity.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/pacific-ocean-stories/irresistably/
Author photo

By Erika Rathje

North Vancouver

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1 Comment

Nov 13, 2012
3:16 PM

Lovely and poetic. Thanks Erika for sharing the experience with the rest of us!

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