Sunday, 23 August 2020

I Plunge Into Cold Water

Here's the reservoir, nestled in hills above Church Stretton. This is what it is like at 7.30am in summer. The sky is blue but the water is cold. Occasionally there are two or three people already swimming, but there's room for me and LJ to teeter on the edge in our wet suit shoes, before taking the plunge.


The plunge is breath-taking, awakening, vital. It confirms my body to my senses, pushes the air out of my lungs and into a shout. The plunge is essential for what comes next - the swim into the meaning of paradise: a new day, everything freshly rinsed by night and dawn's caress. Birds skim the air, call to each other across our bobbing heads. We paddle the length of the reservoir, paddle back, return and turn until we feel the core of ourselves chilled like Chablis. 

To clamber out into the rough care of a towel, is its own pleasure. We talk of stitching two together to form individual changing tents like someone else's mother made years ago. Many swims into the season, and we haven't done it yet, but no matter. 

Back down at the car park, filling up now, we sit in camping chairs by the stream, breakfast on tea, hard boiled eggs, strawberries and banana bread. Not even the Famous Five ate this well after an adventure.

I can be back from the hills and at my desk by 10am on these swimming days, having taken the plunge, the waters, emerged from the vigour of a real paradise.  


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