Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Women who Swim with the Huskies

How I found blogging material in Hyde Park this morning.

My friend John Williams has inspired me to start blogging again, as a way to move towards writing another book, so at 6.45am I set out to re-inspire myself with my i phone 4 and my swim suit.

I’d always thought that wild water swimming was for misguided people who enjoy bracing experiences, such as cold showers, for the beneficial effects to the psyche and the circulation of the blood. Not me. By 7.30am I had reached the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park and was looking at the grey sky and thinking, “Surely, surely not”.

By the time I’d put two feet into the clear but brown, yes, brown water, I was onto “Definitely home time”.
By the time I’d dived forward, (shamed by the girl in the polka dot swimsuit who was being Englishly Nonchalant about the freezing-ness of the whole affair), I was counting out the strokes with 1, 2 never again 3, 4 really no 5, 6 what am I thinking of 8, 9 this is ridiculous and it wasn’t until 29, 30 that something caught my eye.

Husky! Look at that!

Grey, wild and wolf-like, there he was at the edge of the lake on his morning walk and I wasn’t cold at all.

I was in.

I was Woman who Swims with the Huskies and suddenly I realise - it's now warmer in the water than out of it!

No more counting. Just wild things.

A swan glides by on the other side of the buoys and wonder of wonders, a moorhen with the fierce white streak and alarmingly pointed beak (from 25cms away) is guarding the nest she’s built around a neon orange buoy.

Nature triumphs over plastic.

I swim past and see how sharp that beak is.

Perfect. I’m never coming out now.

The sky is still grey, but I’m one with the wild. What’s not to love?

I’ve only done this 3 times before but always on a hot day. I’m glad my housemate Alice decided to join me on the 2nd day and to sign up for the legendary Serpentine Swimming Club with me, because, wonderful as this now feels, it’s not something I think I'd persevere with alone.

When I wake at 6.15am, somewhat earlier that my usual time, it’s only the thought of not disappointing my housemate that gets me up and out.

Writing can be the same. When you embark on a project that’s really new and a little bit scary, the first strokes of the keys or pen can make you feel exposed and ridiculous. But 30 strokes in and you're on your way and wonderful unexpected animals come down to the water’s edge.

And then there’s the glory of the sky and the things you see on your way back to the normal world, which you hadn’t ever noticed before.

On the way back this morning, for instance, we looked at the Statue of Physical Energy set against the clouded sky from a new angle and I thought I’d take a shot of it.

What a statue it is! Without a trace of contemporary ironies – just the joy of scanning the far horizon – riding bare back.

Sometimes the call of the visceral is what you need for an intellectual endeavor.

And epic is essential for the energy of activation.

The thrill of the chill

As the steel sky yields to platinum.

There is a horizon and it’s yours to pursue.

The light dawns!

It's true.

The world

is shining!

And that, as it turns out, just happens to be the working title of my new book. Thanks John, you always were an inspiration.