Friday, July 23, 2010

Swimming Hole

I neglected to bring a camera with me tonight (and it was too dark to have made any difference anyway), but I'm dying to show you what I saw. So, if you'll bear with me, I'm going to try and paint you a picture instead. With words. Here goes nothing.

You park on the side of the highway, gravel crunching, first under your tires, then under your flip-flops. At the end of the line of chattering people, towel clutched to your chest, you stumble and slide down the embankment towards the river. You know this river, it runs along the road for miles, but you've never seen it like this.

The water is black, black and still. The rocks along the opposite bank are pale and imposing in the dark. You move closer to the black river and the moon suddenly clears the trees. It's bright and near-full, almost blinding to look at directly, and in its light you can just barely make out your companions as they kick off shoes, shuck off shorts, and slide into that black, black water.

The dim scene becomes blurry, almost dreamlike. You've left your glasses on the shore, perched atop a crumpled dress. The rocks are slick and unmoving as you wade clumsily into the river, then there's nothing beneath your feet, just cool, black water. You slice your feet happily through the unexpected depths, and nothing has ever felt freer than cool, black water between your toes. Across the river you move, cutting steadily through the surface of the still water. There's a rusty ladder tied haphazardly to the side of the largest, highest rock. In the light it would likely give you pause, but it is dark, the world is soft and fuzzy, and you find yourself clamoring up, up, up the rock, knees and elbows knocking against iron and stone.

You reach the top, and everything focuses. A car rumbles by on the nearby highway, but the sound is muffled, as if miles away. The forest is at your back, dark and still. The water below you is black, your companions' voices soft. You can just make out the sound of your dog's paws as she runs up and down the opposite bank, uncertain of the dark water. The diving board is a thick plank, slick with moss and water, but it is solid and you have no fear because the water is black, the moon bright, the trees quiet.

Then you are in the air, and the ten foot drop goes on, and on, until an eternity has passed and you are still falling, suspended in the air between the moon and the water. The river envelopes you, covering your head, surrounding your gently flailing limbs in cool nothingness. The breath you take as you surface is sharp, smelling of river and dirt and tree, sky and moon, and just a hint of happy, wet dog. Every part of you is breathing a sigh of relief. This is good, so very, very good.

No comments:

Post a Comment