After Walden

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There has been little relief in Massachusetts in July. The heat is oppressive. The humidity bears down like a dead weight.

I slipped into the water and waded beyond the shore. The surface was warm, soft, and silky to the touch. I pushed off and began to move my arms and legs in a familiar pattern. Moving through the warm water was like swimming in a cocoon. Just beneath the layer of warm water was a cooler layer, a reminder of the darker world underneath.

I love to swim with my head above water. This way, I can watch the water striders hovering on the surface. On this visit, I was greeted by first one and then a second barn swallow. They zipped above me, dipped down to the water, and carried on to a destination unknown to me.

As much as I love keeping my head above, I find equal pleasure in submerging my entire being underneath. For as long as I can hold my breath, I become part of another world, one that is quieter and calmer than the one I have temporarily left. Cool water and closed eyes helped ease my throbbing head. If only I could stay beneath the surface.

After Walden, I nearly always feel lighter. Today, stepping out of the pond, the heat was upon me once again.

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I walked sluggishly back to the car, hearing pieces of conversation through the fog of humidity.

“Those fish aren’t even scared,” I hear a woman say in disbelief. In my head, I responded sarcastically, “And why should they be? Are you that arrogant to think that all other species should bow down to you and cower in your presence?” I guess my propensity for intolerance of my kind has not abated in the summer heat.

So too continues my feeling of being an anomaly among my own kind. I love the aquaria welcoming committee. When I first wade into the water, little fish often swim around my legs. Sometimes, they nibble a hello before swimming on.

I have also been enjoying taking photographs of the leaves I find underfoot on the pond trail. They are beautiful, each in their own stage of a romantic kind of decay.

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I feel more akin to those leaves than the people I pass. Perhaps, people are like leaves, all shiny and new when they first fall from their parent tree. Over time, they decay differently. Some turn bright shades of red and yellow, others brown. Some dry out and curl around the edges. I feel like the leaves with tiny holes pecked through them. It is a tired kind of solidarity, like life has been taking little bites out of us until we are no longer whole.

The beauty in this feeling is that it can change. There are times when I feel very whole and green and new. Thankfully, these times seem to arrive when I need them most to balance out the dried up, holey moments.

So another weekend draws to a close. Another week away from Walden begins.

And the heat goes on.

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