On Swimming

I have a confession.

I can’t really swim. I know, I’ve been writing all these posts about going to the river, and I might have one up sometime soon about the Great Ocean Adventure, but I can’t really swim. I splash around, for sure, and I can dogpaddle with the best of them, but in an emergency situation with water, I would be pretty much fucked.

Yesterday we went to milemarker [redacted] on [road]*, because a friend of mine was just getting into town for a brief visit and we wanted to go to the river and it was a readily accessible spot. I went out early with another friend, and we crashed around in the woods for awhile because he charged up the wrong path and I didn’t correct him, but we made it there ok. It was a good day for going to the river. It was a good day for charging naked through the woods looking for logs, too.

I had actually woken up thinking that a river trip would be really nice. The weather was sunny and bright, and it would be a shame to be stuck indoors working all day when I could work at night. Which is what I have been doing, since the weather is so awesome. But I pledged to myself that I would work, unless someone called and said “let’s go to the river” and fortunately someone did.

I have a whole system at the river. First, I apply sunscreen to the visible parts of my body and I lie in the sun until it becomes almost painful. Then, I take my clothes off and put sunscreen everywhere else, before lying in the sun some more. Next, I charge full tilt into the water and splash around. My friend thought it was really amusing when I pointed out that I can’t actually swim, though. He tried to teach me all these fancy swimming strokes, and while I appreciated the effort, I really do just like splashing around. I don’t mind going out into deep water, and I can hold my own for a little while, but actual swimming is beyond me. I also noticed today that I have developed the alarming tendency to sink like a stone, and I’m not sure when that happened. I used to be a floater!

When everyone else arrived, the boys set about building an impressive engineering structure from mud, while the girls lounged on the bank and read. This is pretty much par for the course with river trips, and is part of the fun, with all of us periodically decamping to the water to splash around, play water tag, and what have you. I showed people how, if you hold really, really still, the fish in the water will come nibble on you. I think they are salmon? I assume they are salmon. Anyway, if you hold still enough, those little fuckers can really bite you. It hurts.

“Man,” someone said at one point, “this is really what I wanted to do with my day.”

And he was right. It was exactly what I wanted to do with my day, loafing in the water and then coming home tired and sated to work through the evening. The last week or so have been really, extraordinarily frustrating for me, so it was really nice to just space out at the river with my friends, thinking about nothing other than the apricots in my bag and the book I was reading. The river is one of my favourite places on Earth. I think that if I had a choice in it, I would probably buy property next to the river before I would buy property next to the ocean, since I love the thought of just running out into the back yard and taking a swim. Or, I guess in my case, taking a splash.

*What, like I’m going to give away all my sweet swimming spots? In your dreams.