R. and I went to our neighborhood pool today, for the first time since a dip in late September or early October of 2019, when we were oblivious to what the next spring and summer would mean for quarantine and pool closures and radically different seasonal rhythms. Maybe the last time before today was a night swim? I have a vague memory of a chill against the rising breeze, but we didn’t mark it as historic, since we didn’t know at that moment all that was ahead, the prolonged separation of ourselves from our swims. The water today was the perfect temperature for me, with no perceptible difference between myself and my skin and the surrounding liquid; for R., it was too warm, as everything in Texas almost always is. He was in his element during our February ice storm, splitting oak logs outside, feeding our fireplace inside, finding refuge in the cold corners of the house. Now, the sun soaks through even the reflective, white-painted brick siding; we can feel its persistent warmth on the interior walls. Our neighborhood pool is nestled into the hollow of a little hill, in the corner of a bend in the road, next to a wild area with a wide, water spill-off and retention pond that makes a convincing show of being natural, home to multiple generations of waterfowl and other birds, oasis for the deer. The swimming pool itself is filled with salt water, and I never get tired of it, even in August, when everyone else is exhausted by the repeated process of swimsuits and sunscreen and towels, sick of the heat, finding no respite in the still water in the 90s surrounded by still air in the 100s. In previous Augusts, I have had the pool to myself for hours; even today, there were just six of us enjoying it on a Friday early evening after work.
Floating in the pool, with R. seeking patches of shade in the long shadows of the live oaks, I thought about the percentage of my body that is water (about 60% overall, but 73% of my brain and heart), within the pool’s body of water (100%), on an earth covered more by water than by land (71%). I thought about the clarity and salinity of the water in which I was immersed, next to the murky algal water I could see over in the pond, and felt grateful—as with every single time I swim in that pool—for clean water, a visible bottom surface, an absence of creatures other than human beings. I remembered being the only person in our apartment complex’s pool in Arizona when I was a preschooler and kindergartener and, later, the only person in my grandmother’s backyard pool in Arizona when our family visited her from our home in Alaska a couple of times. I remember as a teenager being the only one who knew how to swim as I crawled and dog paddled my way across the salmon hatchery’s waters, my breath sucked out of me by the cold. As a young adult, I spent a week with my grandmother at her retirement community, where she and her friends sat beneath the awnings with overhead misting while I swam, alone, under the blazing sun. And there have been the hours (the decades!) spent poolside, at both manmade and nature-built sites, watching over my sons and my mermaid niece. Today, I thought about this year’s cloudy and rainy May here in Austin, about the current raging drought and heat farther west of us, about the delicate balance and interconnectedness of our bodies, of this earth of ours, of the elements of water, fire, earth, and air that swirl around and between and within us.
On a different but related note, a reminder and further invitation: Please join us this Sunday, Father’s Day, June 20, for a summer solstice practice bisected by the exact moment of the solstice. The Zoom link is here. We’ll start breath work at 10:00 p.m. CT (11:00 Eastern; 9:00 Mountain; 8:00 Pacific), followed by yin yoga and yoga nidra. I’m so looking forward to gathering with you then!