Last Saturday marked the beginning of year 30 (or maybe more) of my yearly vacation to the same family camp we always go to waaay up in the North Woods of Wisconsin. It is beautiful up here- crystal lakes, towering pine trees, blue skies and little vacation cabins peppered in along the shorelines. Of course, I do manage to do my share of complaining. There are way too many mosquitoes, we spend a week in our little cabin that is way too cramped for our large family, and my main gripe- “why can’t we ever go anywhere else?” Most of my kids love it up here and my husband does, too; his mother started bringing him up here when he was 12. It’s a family tradition. Now, how can I really go and break that?
Like the good sport I am, after I do my bit of bitching I get on with my life and try to make the best of it. I make an honest attempt to try to pull as much positive I can from everything I do. Today, for instance, while my husband and 3 boys went on a 4 hour canoe trip without me (thank the good lord) I decided to do something I haven’t done for over 6 years-go swimming in the lake. Over the years, I’ve somehow managed to convince myself I don’t like swimming much. After the rain stopped, I donned my new Lands End swimsuit, grabbed my towel and pfwacked down to the beach in my flip flops. I told myself no matter how cold the water is, I would slowly go in and just do it. No one in my family was there to try to coerce me into the water. This was just me. My goal was to just make peace with the lake and suck from it all the good that I could. I wanted to practice the breast stroke and just become comfortable in the water. My long term aversion to the lake has always been the dilemma of the occasional leech that manages to attach itself to the feet and other body parts of random swimmers. My son got one on his foot when he was a baby and I did a minor freak out when I saw that ugly, flat, worm-like thing stuck to my baby’s foot. Thank goodness for a quick thinking camp director and table salt-it worked like a charm getting that disgusting thing off Jeff’s foot.
What I did today is face my fears. I told myself-the chance is very slim to none that I will end up with a leech and even if I do, it’s not the end of the world. Just get up your nerve and make peace with the lake. So I did. I walked in, withstood the temporary cold of the initial plunge and went on to have a most enjoyable hour by myself, just me and Big Crooked. I swam back and forth about 10 times from the shallow beach ropes to the deep ropes and put the thought of a leech out of my mind. I let the goodness and serenity of the lake seep deep into my soul and calm me while it’s watery arms held me. And for the first time in a long, long time, I allowed the lake to become my friend.