Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018 @ 11:08 am
Dog days of summer. Smoke from forest fires has settled in for the season. Mosquitoes hover. Wildflowers wilting and going to seed.
I take a midweek day off work. Jeremy and his girlfriend visiting. We drive up into the National Park and hike out across the meadows. There is little view, and through the veil of smoke I imagine the ocean rolling in cool waves.
We hike across boulder fields and arrive at a hanging lake. Rugged mountains a dramatic backdrop. Tall narrow spruce trees ring the clear pool.
I take off my boots at the shore of the lake. A small Dolly Varden swims by, and I hold still and watch its languid movements.
I turn to Daniel. "I want to go swimming."
Jeremy is slicing cheese onto crackers, using a boulder as a table.
I pad down the shore in bare feet. At a flat rock, far enough away to feel safe exposing my imperfect body, I strip off my shorts and tank top. Wade into the cold water. Slime between my toes, my feet gaining purchase on the rough granite below. One, two, and then I swoosh a gentle dive into the grey water. Open my eyes, looking for the sleek trout.
I surface and look back towards the group. They're watching me. I grin and roll back under the surface. My skin tightens over my body, the cold water refreshing deep into my core.
I wade from the water and sit on a rock to drip dry. I pull on my tank top as fast as I can, self consious of being in my underwear while the rest of the group rests idly with their snack.
Later, hiking back towards the car, I lag back from the group, grazing on wild blueberries.
We're a half mile from the car. I'm studying Jeremy's back, the way that he moves through the mountains, the shape of his calf muscles. He turns to look back - at the view, at me? I am gently smiling when we make eye contact. I hold it. My face relaxed, effortlessly calm and happy.
We hold eye contact for a significant moment, him walking backwards up the trail. He smiles. Then turns to continue up the trail.
Right there, those three seconds. Alpine lake water dripping from my loose hair. Lupines quivering in the smokey wind. His eyes and smile.
So effortlessly happy.