Achrive:  Year 3 - Monday, July 14, 2008 #25: "Stay Cool"

It’s getting really stinkin’ hot.  Right now, there’s a bright sun and it’s 85 degrees - which is actually quite pleasant; but tomorrow is forecasted to get to the mid 90’s and I’m less thrilled about that.  That’s a lie - I am rather thrilled about that.  I am still not so far away from thick boots and below zero to really begrudge a little sweat and sunburn.  As a matter of fact, even in the scorching heat, Gracie and I have been livin’ like Queens lately.  

The addition of the Kayak to my fleet this summer has been invaluable.   I’ve been going out several times a week and have found that the river changes a lot, even from day to day.  The water level has gone down from her highest stage and so the beaches are open again – to person and critter alike.  

It’s been so hot, Gracie and I have gone swimming almost everyday.

The prospect of swimming in the Mississippi River has raised some eyebrows, I’ve found.  Some take it in stride – when you live on a beach and it’s a hot summer day, you go swimming.  Naturally.  Others take a shocked, sharp intake of breath and try not to crinkle their noses at me.

“Isn’t it dirty?”

That question can mean several things.  If they mean is it ‘dirty’, as in – is their dirt present – yes.  Absolutely.  It’ll get allll over you and make the bottoms of your feet nice and smooth. 

If they mean ‘dirty’ as in polluted – yes - because everything is polluted.  Granted, there are parts of the river, and a lot of lakes, that are too polluted to reasonably want to swim; but, really, this stretch of river is comparatively clean.  And even if it weren’t, I find it odd to believe that one could avoid the pollution in the river by simply not immersing themselves in the water.  Whatever is in the river is also in the air we’re breathing… That being said, I do shower abruptly when returning home from my swim, and I avoid drinking it as much as possible.

Today, Gracie and I took, what was intended to be a ten-minute dip, but instead turned into an hour-long river romp.  It was a perfect combination of a generous timeline, perfect weather, and the inclination to utilize them both.  The water is unusually clear these days – so clear we found a renegade golf ball in the rocks a few feet off shore and it gave Gracie and endless supply of amusement.  A ball that bounces really high and doesn’t float?  Tremendous!    

Almost on cue, The Patrick Gannaway – my favorite tug - pushed a few barges by.  

I love the barges.  

They keep a similar schedule to the geese around here – disappearing completely by November, making a grand re-appearance in April.  When I saw the Patrick Gannaway chugging up river for the first time this Spring – I ran to the bank like it was Elvis.  I screamed and jumped and waved my hands around until the patient pilot begrudged me a honk.  

Maybe he knows that seeing him means a lot down here.  If the tugs run, it means the river isn’t expected to freeze again – and that means I made it.  

Gracie swims circles around me, quite literally – perfect circles.  Boxers are not a swimmin’ breed, generally, but she has never really read up on her qualities and swims as if she was intended to.  She’s very gentle in the water and doesn’t claw me, or splash too much.  Sometimes she bats around her ball on shore, chasing it wildly in and out of the water.  Sometimes she swims out to me with the ball in her mouth, and I throw it to shore in a sort of reverse-catch.  Sometimes she swims lazily beside me as I aim up-river like a water-treadmill.  This usually bores her fairly quickly.   I catch her sometimes, scanning the water in front of me, looking for what I am swimming after so hard.  It must seem very strange to her that I struggle to stay in one spot… Sometimes I think that our mutual amusement is what makes us work so well.    

As the temperatures tick higher, I grow increasingly grateful for my AC – which is pulling along like a champ.  If the predicted rain falls on cue over the next couple of days – it will be just enough to keep the grass green.  

Man, I could get used to this.

Next Post: September 29, 2008 #29: "Falling"

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