One Last Swim

. A bleak grey day, but only if you don't look carefully.

Temperature at -1C. Gentle breeze from the south veering around Apex Hill helping the incoming tide press the first slush of freshwater ice back into the mouth of the creek.

But the salt water bay is still liquid. Looks so inviting. With the boat already ashore for winter, the open water tugs at me hard.

Wasn't always like that. I used to thrill at winter approaching, diving into it with relish and hardly a thought, wondering if I could get a caribou this early without ripping track and skis all to hell on the rocks. But this year, for the first time, about mid-September I caught myself holding on to Fall a bit, bargaining with Nature for a few more days. "C'mon Sol, old buddy, just another week? I’ll be good. How about I promise to clean a bit more garbage off the beach?"

We're going to reach November 1st with temperatures just flirting with freezing, nowhere near the usual -15C for late October with land-fast ice already well established.

So I think I’ll go for one more swim. Just can’t stand the thought of that glorious seascape turning to stone without dipping my toes in one last time. If I don’t do it, I'll regret it all winter. I won’t have bid 2010 a proper farewell before giving Brother Brrr his rough welcome handshake.

Frickin’ salt water freezes at -4C. Ouch!

I made it in up to my knees. Could have gone all the way, but found myself wading along the shore, examining the bottom. Don't know how long it lasted, but a burning ache in the arches of my feet suddenly broke through my reverie and jolted me back to reality.

Scurried up onto the sandy beach, dried my tootsies, slipped my boots back on and started collecting garbage. An hour later, dripping with perspiration, I was back in the water again for a minute to cool off. With the Fall ritual finished properly this time, I headed for my favourite rock outcrop a hundred feet away to sit and stare at the sea a while, what Uncle Frank used to call "communing with Nature".

That’s when the sky suddenly morphed into an extraordinary pastiche of cloudy hues extending all the way across the Bay to the highest mountains 40 miles away. They've been snow covered for over a week.

Damn, just realized the bare granite is leaching heat from my butt at a horrific rate. I've begun to shiver, my eyes are watering, and I need to wipe my nose. Trance is over.

I’ll pick up a few more tidbits of trash on the way back to the house for a cup of Niam's finest Cuban roast. Timmy Horton is a wuss. You have to try Niam coffee right here in Apex.

Next week, I'll wear long sleeves… bring a cushion… and pretend government is relevant again.