Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blondie in the Pond -- Winning

Blondie in the Pond 
Listen to ‘Blondie in the Pond’ on Audioboo

I am sitting here in my wet bathing suit waiting for my turn in the shower after an amazing water filled day. We're in Maine for a week with our best friends and collective kids -- three boys and two girls.

Today we went for a picnic at Lily Pond just south of Bar Harbor, or as the locals say 'Bah ha-bah.' After a short walk down a wooded path we found the long expanse of the pond stretched before us -- all 3/4 mile of pristine Maine beauty. Not a single house was in site, nor any man made structure. Simply trees, rocks, and water -- glorious water.

Lily Pond, near Bar Harbor, Maine
My four year old daughter, Shorty, and my friend's three kids wasted no time getting in the water. My son hesitated on shore not sure if he wanted to get his feet wet. Was he related to me? Clearly he did not inherit my love of water. The fourteen year old identical twins were throwing a ball to Shorty and their sister, a 10 year old water bug.

The adults arranged all the paraphernalia on the beach -- chairs, blankets, snacks, and gear for the canoe. I stood there marveling at the view before me -- I had to get my feet in the water. I dumped everything I carried, kicked off my flip flops and squished through the muddy debris strewn bank.
I wiggled my toes in the water. Was it warm enough for me to swim? Warmer than the ocean but not as toasty as my southern roots would have liked. The sun was shining, the air was seventy-five degrees . . . it was possible.

I wiggled my toes in the water.
As I debated I noticed Michael and Cassie, my friend's kids already about 1/4 mile away swimming across the lake. I could see their blue and white life jackets in contrast to the dark water. A pang of jealousy hit me. I wanted to be neck deep in the pond.

Ian, the other twin, was eyeing his brother not wanting to be outdone. "Hey, do you want to swim across with me?" I asked.

His face lit up. "Yes." Including that exchange he'd said maybe four words to me the entire vacation. It was all I needed because I knew no other adult was able do the mile and a half swim. I was his only hope for catching his brother and 'winning' yet another competition.

I grabbed my goggles and steeled myself for the plunge in the cold water. His brother and sister were almost out of sight in the distance, just two small dots in the pond. They didn't know we were coming. I got to the point of no return where your bathing suit is still dry and you've not committed to anything yet. Surely if the 10 year old could swim in this icy water so could I. 

"You're coming right?" Ian asked with a tone of panic in his teenage voice.

In reply I dove in the cold water trying not to to scream like a little girl in a haunted house. After a few minutes of panting I warmed up and settled into the swim. "What if we saw a moose drinking on shore?" He asked."That would be so cool."

"Hopefully we won't see a bear." I am a strong swimmer but no match for a bear, especially if I had to protect Ian in the process. Rather a funny thought since Ian was four inches taller and outweighed me by a good twenty pounds.

This critter could ruin the whole day. Could I out swim it? 
I marveled at the eye level view of the pond surrounded by gorgeous trees on all sides. We continued to swim with Ian excitedly talking about the high school cross country team he was trying out for and his other summer plans. He probably said more words to me on this swim than he had in the 14 years I had known him.

About a half hour into our swim our friends showed up in the canoe. "How are you doing? Do you want to get in the canoe?" His mom asked Ian.

"No. I'm great." He was slightly out of breath but swam with gusto.

Shorty was in the boat too. "Hi Mom." She gave me a tentative high five.

My son looked at me like I'd lost my mind. "Hi Mom. Exactly why are you doing this?"

I laughed and marveled at how different we were. "Because it's amazing. Why don't you jump in and join us?" 

He had spent every second with the boys since our arrival in Maine, but this was one adventure he was going to pass on. "You couldn't pay me enough." He was right. It was just not his thing.

Ian's mom OK'd our progress so we continued on our quest. Our prey was in sight now. Close enough to hear, but not to make out what they were saying. They stuck out of the water with their life jackets making more work for them. The two reached the end of the lake and began swimming towards us and after about ten minutes they passed us. We kept our cool and casually said hello not letting on about the secret race.

After an hour and twenty minutes we were 1/4 mile from where we started and the two kids were about 100 yards ahead. I looked at Ian assessing his reserve. He was a strong swimmer and seemed to have a lot left in him. He reminded me of a race horse waiting for the jockey to let him loose for the finish. Just a few words to release him and win today's round of the endless competition with his brother. "Do you think we can catch him?" I asked.

He reminded me of a race horse waiting for the jockey to let him
loose for the finish.
Clear blue eyes stared back at me. "Go for it! I said. It was on like Donkey Kong with Ian's determination fueling him. His brother, used to their competition, was not going to make it easy for him. But for the moment Ian had the element of surprise.

I pulled my goggles down over my eyes and followed him in a sprint switching to freestyle for speed. I felt the adrenaline kicking in allowing me to push harder despite the hour plus in the water.
It wasn't long until Michael saw Ian splashing towards him and realized he was about to be ambushed. He tried to pull off the life jacket but it took too long. He abandoned it and began sprinting despite the bulk. Another ten minutes and the boys were battling it out near shore.

A few bystanders moved aside and watched them finish the race. Ian beat Michael by a few feet just before the shoreline. Both boys fell to the grass out of breath. Cassie followed close behind and I joined her. Ian looked at his watch. It took Cassie and Michael two hours to leisurely swim the mile and a half. Ian and I conquered Lily Pond in an hour and a half.

The race was on!
The boys talked excitedly as we picnicked on the grassy bank. Shorty hugged me glad to see me again and the canoers told us of their adventures. My son was happy to have the boys back on dry land and on his turf again.

Ian may have won the race but nobody enjoyed the experience more than I did. My thirst for big beautiful trees, and my heaven on earth of being in the water was quenched for the day. Tomorrow we're heading to Cadillac Mountain where the boys' competition will continue and this race will be forgotten. I, however, will cherish this memory for years pulling it out and caressing it as needed through the long cold winter. It will also serve to dampen my torment when I have to return to dirtville at the end of this vacation with no decent body of water for hundreds of miles. I may have finished last in the race but I am without a doubt the winner! 

If you like these Maine pictures check out a few more here:

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When I'm not working on Stealing Time you can find me on my social media at the links below. I hope to have my novel completed by spring 2013 with book two close behind.