snapping turtle


My furnace is on, my fingers and toes are numb, and a cup of cold coffee rests at my elbow. Even though a bitter April wind is blowing the leaves around outside my window, it’s not too soon to dream about swimming in my favorite local swimming hole. A bit of sunshine, a walk, and the buds of my day lilies remind me that summer will soon be here. Over the bridge my family and I will drive on the hot evenings ahead. I’ll have found my summer soundtrack. Last year it was Black Crowes and Frank Ocean. This year it might be Jessie Ware or Flaming Lips. We’ll park along the side of the road and walk the wooded path to the rope swing or rock ledge that becomes our salvation in the heat of summer. Maybe I’ll bring my red cooler with the “I Heart NY” sticker on it, filled with yogurt tubes, Sunny Delight and Funyuns. We’ll swim until the sun starts to go down and the air becomes cool. We’ll think about the giant snapping turtle that friends tell us lives in the depths of the pond. As big as a VW Beetle some say. I’ve never seen it. I thought I felt it brush up against me as I was far out from shore, but it may have just been a stick. This mythical turtle gives every swim a small sense of danger. Like our own Loch Ness monster, waiting to rear it’s twisted head. Still, that doesn’t stop us. Maybe this summer, I’ll have the courage to swim across the pond like my triathlete buddies do. Open water swimming, they call it. As opposed to the safe kind, the kind I’m more familiar with. Although I love swimming in nature and love the ocean, I’m mostly a pool swimmer. The safety of seeing the bottom, of knowing where the edges are, the ladders and the handholds. The black stripe blues. The laps. Always asking myself, five minutes into a workout: what the hell am I doing? Then remembering that it’s OK, this endless back and forth, like an aquatic Sisyphus. Clawing forward, feeling like I’m swimming downhill like the how-to books say. Still, all this writing about swimming seems futile. Like writing about heaven or eternity. Time for a hot shower and more coffee. Look, the sun came out again!

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