5:30 a.m. is an interesting time to be awake. Everything is still and quiet. And dark. I try to get out of bed gently so I don't wake up Belinda. I walk down the long, dim hallway to the bathroom I've taken over as my own and I find my swim suit, goggles and a dry towel. We come to the swimming pool in our swim suits now since the locker rooms are closed.
Once I've got the important stuff in hand I pad out to the kitchen and make a quick coffee with lots of milk in it. I browse through e-mail while I drink my coffee and, sometimes, eat a handful of the amazing granola that my friend, Emmett, makes while he's taking time off from his restaurant.
It's so delicious I want to eat it all but I resist because I know Belinda likes it too.
After I finish with coffee I brush my teeth. I like Tom's natural toothpaste in the peppermint flavor. No one wants to swim next to a person with coffee breath.
I'm always extra careful backing out of the driveway because we have baby fawns nearby and then there's the occasional grey fox and, of course, the early joggers and walkers. The back-up camera in my car is one of the miracles of modern life...
The trip to the pool takes about a minute and 45 seconds at 5:50 a.m. There's no traffic and the lights are still set to blinking red. I turn into the pool and I'm on familiar turf as I've swum here most days for the last 25 years. You'd think I'd be a better swimmer by now but there's always one more thing to learn.
Today's coach, Will, was already on the deck and ready for us. He's an amazing coach and a part owner of a craft distillery that makes whiskey. At 25 he seems to have his path figured out well. He starts us out with a 400 yard swim. The workout progresses through different sets and the person in the next lane over from me remarks about the beautiful first blush of the sunrise. I swim the set of 200s doing backstroke instead of freestyle so I can see the magenta clouds flow across the deep, rich, blue sky.
I am at peace in a way that's hard to explain. To be an age that is considered by some to be "old" but to have total confidence in my body's abilities to swim, run and exist without pain or fatigue is a priceless gift. To swim a stroke for which you have a degree of speed and mastery while watching the sky shift from subtle to beautiful to regal is an amazing mix. For the better part of the workout my mind seemed to exist perfectly in the present. As I brought each arm down to complete the backstroke I could feel the pressure of the cool water resist and flow.
When we ended our workout I felt so truly alive that I had to just stand still for a few moments to smell the morning and to enjoy the painted sky. I wish I had brought my camera to the pool deck. I'm glad I didn't bring my camera to the pool deck. There is something about the directness of some experiences that makes all accessories to the moment seem shallow and dilute.
I got home, made tea, ate pancakes and then put on my favorite walking shoes. Belinda and I headed out the door around 7:45 for our walk over the hills and through our neighborhood. The sun was shining but there was a cool breeze and the temperature was just right. Cool enough to keep sweat at bay but warm enough to preclude the need for a jacket or sweater. We talked about how lucky we have been and how we have so much to be thankful for. Neither of us looks backward. We're always ready to see what the future holds and to see what our place in it will be.
At the moment it seems like a life without fear; without want. Now I'm off to make some equipment donations. Later I'll pick up a camera and head downtown. My friend, Andy, wrote about a new art installation at Republic Park. His photos were intriguing. I want to see for myself.
I wonder if we'll have an equally beautiful sunset tonight...
The sunset looks good even over the waste facility.
always ready to swim. Anywhere.
My wish for everyone.