Not running, not swimming

I was reading Margrit Talpalaru's meditation on running and writing and it all rang true for me, except I don't run anymore. I used to, and I miss it, especially in the spring. But I spent too many years dancing (damn you, beautiful, wonderful Martha Graham!) for my hip and back and knees to weather the pavement.

Swimming though. Swimming is my running. Except I haven't been swimming in weeks. My head is too full, and my body feels strange -- both pent-up, and lethargic. Nothing an hour in the fast lane couldn't fix, but my local is still closed for repairs and I've been too lazy eating brunch and not doing yoga and finding crocuses to find a new length swim.

Sometimes it's good to take a break, that's what I've been telling myself. The principle definitely applies to writing and work and most things, though I'm not sure it's totally applies to swimming for me. I haven't missed swimming like this since the six weeks after my son's birth, but they were so filled with so much newness and so little sleep that it was hard to miss the pool like I do now.

At least I've been writing about swimming. A lot. And thinking about swimming, a lot.

And I quit my job (yay!) and got new jobs (yay!) and one is near a pool I've never swam at before, so there's that on the horizon. And if the renovations go according to plan, my local swimming hole will be back up and running soon. Maybe even next weekend. You know my fingers are crossed.

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, March 28, 2016

The pool is closed for repairs: Despair, dismay and coping strategies

My local swimming hole is closed for a month. Of course there are other pools that I could swim at, but none are a five minute bike ride from my front door, and none are at the perfect time on the weekends. It's overly dramatic to say I'm devastated, but I kind of am.

And it's clear I am not alone in my dismay. On the final length swim before it closed, the tone was somber and funeral, like we were never going to see each other again, our mixed and motley crew of weekend swimmers. The fast lane and the change room were tinged with despair.

But out of the despair, some coping strategies were born:

Hardcore Triathlete (who you know is hardcore because she has a triathlon cap and a mesh bag with fins and her own personal pull-buoy) had done extensive research about all the pools in the west end of Toronto. She even had them ranked them depending on their length swim time slots and water temp. She had an amazing tip about one pool on the Lakeshore where lifeguards kick slow swimmers out of the fast lane (#heaven). 

Fast Lane Friend claimed he didn't have it in him to trek any further than the two blocks our local was from his house. He planned on pulling out his bike.

The two Elderly Women Who Do Water Aerobics In The Slow Lane made plans to check out Memorial's warm water. Their grandsons like swimming there...

Super Fast Swimmer Who Doesn't Look Like A Swimmer And Has The Most Beautiful Butterfly, nodded a stern, meaningful goodbye at the end of the swim, but other than that he didn't really have much to say about the pool closing for a month. He's more the strong silent type.

I have great plans to do weekend yoga (which I haven't done) and brunch, (which I have done) and I've made a few trips to pools further afield, which semi-filled up the pool-shaped hole in my heart. It'll be warm enough to get my bike out, but really, I miss MY pool, with its lackadaisical lifeguards and fast lane politics and chatty, opinionated change room ladies. 

The countdown to April is ON...
  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chicken legs and liquified bananas: Eating on a long distance swim

Beyond the Pablum Marilyn Bell consumed on her Lake Ontario swim, I've really never considered what long distance swimmers eat. I always think of them swimming, not eating, but then of course they'd have to eat if they're swimming for 20+ hours. Hell, I have to eat every three hours even when I'm not swimming in open water.

It turns out, Doritos (Rhya's swim snack of choice) and my peanut butter cracker combo would not cut it. This Lucky Peach article by Kate Greene on the chicken legs, peaches, liquified bananas, sticky rice balls with bananas, combined with the errant swallow of salt/fresh water and salt-swollen tongues is fascinating.

  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pocket Sized Pool

We are on the cusp of spring... swimming is near!

Due to late night pool schedules and my tendency to hibernate during the winter, this season has been sadly very water-less... and I'm feeling it. I've been searching out images of beautiful pools on instagram and making a list of all the places to visit once the weather turns warm, with my mind always returning to the sad fact that I have not kicked my feet in enough swimming holes this winter!

But then it dawned on me... I have been frequenting a pool almost every night this year! I realized this while I was chilling with my daughter during her nightly bath time routine. She was splashing around the tub and chanting "I swimming, I swimming!"

I mean technically, she was really just sitting, but I wasn't going to argue, because two year olds are the worst people to argue with.

The bathtub is TOTALLY a pool, a pocket sized one, but still a contained body of water. And I hang out next to our petite pool literally every night. My cast of swimmers consists of a bunch of colourful plastic friends from all over the animal kingdom; my favourites being Moo-rris the cow, Mr. Crocodilow, oh and I can't forget my own fiery wildebeest! It's a truly unique experience. There is singing, splashing, the occasional tantrum, and always an abundance of swimming stories.

So I guess it turns out that this winter has been water logged after all. Are you listening Summer, because you have a lot to live up to.
  • Rhya
  • Sunday, March 6, 2016

Complicated Blues: Notes from Patagonia

In Patagonia there is a super untouched area that still exists, centred around the confluence of 2 rivers: the Rio Azul and the Rio Blanco. There is not much in the way of civilization there, save for some farmers and a network of hiking trails that plays home to some serious free spirits. There's hardly any wildlife there either. Some birds and a couple of wee lizards. The very occasional mountain cat. Some fish. That’s it.

The rivers there are fed by glaciers. They are BLUE. Like, brilliant blue. Gorgeous, brilliant blue.

My first day hiking there I “bumped” into 2 American guys, one from New York, one from Oregon and we “chatted” across a canyon. They were psyching themselves up, shirts off, for the cliff jump into one of the deep pools of blue situated at a bend in the river. Finally, with some egging on, one of them did climb up for the 20 or 30 foot jump. I clapped and cheered with total glee from my side of the gap. Well done, Oregon guy.

The next evening I happened to be reading the excellent book “All the Light We Cannot See” and was struck by a phrase in the story – “the complicated blues” – it was about the colour of music, but it stood out to me because that afternoon I had spent some time beside another swimming hole in the Rio Azul. 167 steps down a cliff (I counted), near my mountain lodge.

I sat and studied that swimming hole for an hour or two. I was trying to imagine explanations for why the water would be that colour. THOSE colours, more accurately. Because the longer I watched, the more the colour was not just one colour. It was complicated.

I sat and imagined slipping out into the centre of the complicated blue. Perfecting my starfish, complete with radiating Ophelia hair, floating floating floating, unbothered by anyone because there was no one.

My hiking boots came off. My socks came off.

But there was no swimming in that heavenly hole that day. The reason was not so complicated.

The simple truth was that it was really, really, really fucking cold.

  • Laura
  • Thursday, March 3, 2016

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