Flathead Lake

1 January 2019

Swoosh. Splash. The frigid water closes over my head. Sinking into the deep blue-green of Flathead Lake, slowly I turn over and gaze up at the wind-whipped waves that make the sunlight dance on the lake floor. Slowly, I let my breath out and return to the surface. The cold, fresh air hits my face and is pulled into my heaving lungs. I swim as though I am a part of the water that surrounds me. I reach the metal ladder and climb up onto the rough-hewn wooden planks that are slick with the water that drips from my body. I walk back and forth along the dock, catching my breath and soaking in the warm, June sunshine.

When I reach the end, I turn and run carefully along the full length of the dock, gripping with my toes the slick boards, and then launch myself off the end, throwing myself into thin air. For a split second I’m flying, and then I land silently, gracefully, in the cool waters of the lake. I swim, using all my strength to pull myself along in the water, my goal to reach the end of the buoys. My lungs are bursting for a fresh breath of air. Slowly, I reach towards the top of the lake, extricating myself from the silky embrace of the water.
Pulling myself up to sit on the buoy line, I take in deep breaths of the sweet, warm, June air that is perfumed with the smell of sunscreen and hot pavement. Laughter and screams punctuate the air from the young children playing at the water’s edge, beneath the watchful eye of their parents. I lean back, closing my eyes and taking in all the smells and sounds of summer, until I feel a sharp tug on my leg. Then, into the water I go again, as my best friend pops up next to me, a grin plastered from ear to ear. I threaten to dunk her. She laughs, knowing I am only joking and that it’s an empty threat. We race back to the dock, reaching it at the same time. We laugh and climb out, only to turn and jump right back in again.

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