Nager est vivre
On Monday, Joe and I left work early and headed to Hull for a late afternoon swim. We’ve been there several times so far this summer. Nearby Nantasket has a more carnivalesque atmosphere (and a really cool old carousel), but Hull is quieter. On the weekend, it tends to get crowded, and parking is impossible, but at 6pm on a random weekday, it’s peaceful and calm, and parking is easy.
It was low tide when we arrived on Monday, and the sun was still strong, even as it was setting. We swam for a bit, the water was warm with some waves, though not too big. After we swam, we napped.
Later we drove out to Hull’s outer neighborhoods, where there are some really beautiful 19th-century homes overlooking the water. As is the case everywhere in Massachusetts right now, there were tons of houses for sale. It’s unsettling to see how much is on the market. Where is everyone going?
Yesterday, we left work again—life is short. We met our friend IH for lunch. We talked about his new place, our jobs, the situation in Lebanon, and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. IH is Palestinian.
I forget how it came up, but IH mentioned that he used to swim in Walden Pond in Concord. The reason Joe and I left work early was to visit my aunt B, who’s in a rehab facility in Littleton because of a problem with one of her eyes. It occurred to me that since Littleton is very near Concord, we could stop at Walden on the way home.
My aunt was in much better spirits than we expected to find her. She was very happy to see us and was as alert and talkative as ever. I was relieved. The doctors are optimistic that the problem with her retina is temporary and will clear up on its own in a week or so. At 88, she’s the oldest of my mother’s siblings. My mother is the youngest, and there’s a twenty-five year age difference between them. For that reason, my aunt feels almost like a grandmother to me (as do many of my mother’s older sisters), since my maternal grandmother has been dead for almost two decades.
On the way home, we did indeed stop in at Walden Pond. We arrived just after 7pm. I’d actually never been before. Since it was more or less completely spontaneous, we had no swimsuits or towels. We just hiked in wearing our street clothes, past the sandy beach area near the entrance to the trail that surrounds the pond. The trail is roped off on both sides to protect the banks of the pond, but there are breaks in the trail every thirty feet or so, where narrow stone steps lead down an embankment to the water’s edge. Although there is a small beach area for families, the entire pond is open to swimmers, as long as they stay on the designated trails.
It was a truly Thoreauvian moment:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”We stripped to our boxers and went in. The sun hovered just above the tree line. It was glorious. When we were done, we got out and air dried on the stone steps. We used our t-shirts to dry off the last drops of water before getting back into our clothes (sans wet boxers, of course). I thought to myself that the only thing that could have made our virgin swim at Walden more perfect is if we had gone skinnydipping, but I’m pretty sure that would have been frowned upon. There were no signs prohibiting nude bathing, but I just can’t imagine that it’s allowed, even in hip Concord. I’m sure Thoreau didn’t wear a bathing suit.