Day Seventy-Five: Dip
The girls had heard someone mention it on New Year's Eve and by the next morning they were ready in bathing suits before the bacon was on the table. The swim was to be held at one o'clock, and as these things go, it was going to be quite a mild one—eight degrees and overcast. Not as crowded as May Day, someone said as traffic inched along the Spit. The tide was neither high nor low and one could take a fairly enthusiastic sprint at the water from the top of the boat launch. I suppose in the end it's the momentum that keeps you committed. I imagined the East coast as my mother had described it over the phone the other day: like a fairyland, she'd said. Every tree and bush looking as though it had been dipped in ice, and she lying in bed at night listening to the faint tinkle of branches outside her window tousled by the whims of breezes and cross winds. She'd said it looked magical. Meanwhile, my aunt in another holiday phone call saying, Oh it's just dreadful. Dreadful. That long cringing pause between syllables and the preceding rise in decibels. I couldn't even get out of the driveway for church on Christmas morning. On Chrisssst-----Mas. Just imagine. I explained that I expected the Good Lord would take weather into account and that exceptions could be made. At the beach I tried to imagine jumping into the ocean at 25 below, wrapped in nothing but windchill. Surely they don't still do it. Maybe an indoor pool with the temperature turned down low? I suppose there are those who view the ceremony of it more important than the circumstances, like Aunt Connie on Christmas morning wringing her hands at the sight of a glassy sidewalk. The girls stayed on the fringe of the polar group and made it up to their knees before turning back, rewarded with praise, hot chocolate, and a wooly blanket each, happy to have been part of it and ready for home.