Cheryl and I went for a swim in the dam today.
hardly reason to blow your trumpet Sandra,
oh but it is.
the afternoon is warm muggy and still.
we hang around on the east verandah talking of comfort zones , mortality, medicine and family.
skinks wander around underfoot.
John is still abed feeling sick achy feverish hot cold sick –
not a well man at all
mostly sleeping or reading living on water and a few squeezes of lemon juice.
his last action in the world was repairing Caroles water tank and he has been horizontal ever since.
do you ever go for a swim in the dam anymore ? Cheryl asks.
she wants to know how long it has been. I have a vague recollection that my last swimming time there was in the era of Bridie and Sooty and that is at least two girlfriends ago.
why she wants to know ? Cheryl likes to know things and can strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere anytime about anything. She has just become a pink lady which is someone that visits patients in hospital. every week she heads up to Bega Hospital and changes water in the flowers or helps tick the menu and chats if people are up for it.
we laughed that she had come out as a pink lady to John but he hasn’t been much in the mood for conversation.
perhaps she says it was the brown snake she says.
could be I reply.
once the big dam was our summer hub – the place to hang about to plunge into and play. one Christmas before the children were of school age John had a truck load of sand delivered for a beach.
and then as they got a bit older I would offer a gold coin if they swim a lap around it.
I hate to think how much I will have to offer Kingston to swim the course.
one day John was down at the pump and being hot decided to cool off by diving in . He swim across to the beach and as he was walking out a stick on the ground began to move. it materialised into a brown snake and darted rapidly towards John . he quickly backpedaled falling back into the water kicking and splashing up enough of a fuss to save his life. the brown snake lost interest and swam away to the right disappearing among the water irises . heart pounding John continued on across the dam and brought the news to us up at the house.
this is to date the only sighting and encounter of a brown on Jellybean Road in 30 years. and we touch wood when we say that.
mmm that could be it. perhaps we never felt entirely comfortable with the big dam after that .
Bec goes swimming in the lily dam I tell Cheryl.
shall we ? she asks.
might as well.
along the track thru lazy summer heat on a day poised for rain we wander down past the abandoned lily shack and over to the lily dam. it fair took our breath away. from a couple of pots of waterlillies thrown in 30 years ago the dam is an enchanting temple scene . yellow flowers perchon stalks above large flat glossy green leaves. round the edges of the dam and hosting the lilies is pampas grass.
in the middle there is still a clear space of water but probably not for much longer.
we stand and stare. it is beautiful and already I feel spiritually uplifted in its presence.
how does Bec get in ? wonders Cheryl.
good point. she must go thru the lilies I say.
We consider this for a long time.
I don’t think I can do that . nor me.
we see a possibility on the other bank and investigate.
she’ s a warrior I say.
no doubt about that agrees Cheryl.
we turn around and walk past Sooty and Kats garden past the stack of bourby cans past their shack and down the hill to the big dam. They are away activisting – up near Boggabri where a new mine is going in to the detriment of a native forest – again – .
We strip off and wait pondering this idea. the sandy beach has gone and instead the ground is pocked with cow hoof holes .
one foot in and it sinks thru squelchy smooth slimy mud up to our calves.
I don’t know if I can do this.
another foot . the dark tannin coloured water is coffee stained by the release of the clay particles that swirls around our feet.
a black snake is spotted on the bank nearby.
what is it doing eating something? I don’t have my glasses on so the visual is hazy. it seems to be in pursuit but then it stops and curls into a horseshoe shape.
another step. all we have to do is dive in Cheryl says bravely.
where are those warrior women that swam from Little Belimba Creek down the Tuross River for miles one day?
what has happened to us ?
our comfort zone is interfering with our capacity of delight for feet sinking into sludge and disappearing in black water.
we dive in – there really is no other option and one can only shag around for so long.
the temperature is divine . indeed the water feels like silk on the body like some of those hot mineral waters in New Zealand – wholesome and healing ,nurturing and rejuvenating.
the black snake is still there when we get out.
Cheryl said you know I don’t think I would have got in if that black snake hadn’t been there. it made me feel safe.