I first noticed it Friday at the boat launch.
People were edgy. “Not many more days like this..” I heard, ominously; the voice running a little high and tight.
This is it: Labor Day Weekend.
Its Sunday Morning and my approach is both strategic and tactical.
I am up early. My plan: dive the pipeline and adjacent open areas. Test out my new mask and snorkel; maybe get some pictures.
The impending frenzied mania to extract the last mortal essence from ‘fun’ before it expires apocalyptically late in the day, September 3rd, lends a desperate cast to things. From shore the sun seems a little too bright. The weather; too perfect. The bay; too glassy smooth. Too ready to yield the precious nectar; fun.
Humanity abhors a vacuum: This is a vacuum of tranquility.
Ritual at the portal between worlds: Organizing the float (tactical conspicuity); putting up the flag (more tactical conspicuity); attaching the line to my belt; donning the mono fin; carefully fitting the mask. Each gesture perfectly dictated by necessity. Practical; ordinary; sacred.
The immanence of the smooth, cool, water lifts concern like oil.
I am not a vertical creature now, but suspended in Space.
The concentrated Space of water; the Space between breaths; between thoughts; between the continuum of moments woven by the mind.
At this hour the bay is populated by fisherman.
Fisherman are paying attention. Their boats; antibodies to reckless speed.
They are part of my strategy.
Likewise paddle boards and kayaks – though they often come too close; failing to recognize their legal status as ‘watercraft’ – I appreciate their non-lethal locomotion.
Swimming out; I feel into the movements of monofinning – spine elongating; breath finding rhythm; the satisfying sense of streamlined motion through cool water.
Not seeing much in the way of life-forms along my planned route, I light out across the open spaces and, for no particular reason stop, relax, breathe ….. then dive.
In the distance, on the way down, I see the bright ventral fins of a Drum and adjust my fall to face it. It comes in, between fear and curiosity, reacting to my every gesture. I try not to look too quickly or shift position; every movement timed to it’s cautious approach.
We spend a couple of minutes at a time together, over several dives. The drum coming in, turning away when the camera comes up, moving off then coming back. I love how they look from straight on; their fins forming an ‘X’. But they nearly always turn before the camera.
Next I see a carp feeding on the bottom, perhaps 20 feet from where I touch down. I wonder what it’s mood will be. Sometimes they leave, sometimes they circle. This one is a little confrontational – I am both a competitor and, quite possibly, onto something good. It comes over quickly, it’s honest eyes boldly tentative, and swims within 18 inches or so of my face.
‘Not that interesting’, evidently. It just keeps going; swimming, just a tad quicker than casually, east into the luminous morning haze.
Meanwhile, overhead, things are picking up. Time to return to shore, society, gravity and the accelerating machine of the day.