From Winter to Water


I dropped out of the tree and into the pool. Out of Ontario winter and into the Florida sun. I had sworn I wouldn’t.

“My family are in Ontario,” I had protested to anyone who asked. I would miss dinners with my parents, followed by shared crossword puzzles and Raptors games. “And the girls.” Never mind that my daughters live two hours away in the city where they both attend University. I liked being within driving distance of them. “And my yoga classes and meditation  group. My circle of like-minded souls.” I frowned. “I have none of that here. Not yet anyway.”

And then there’s the solitude. My blessed solitude. I had grown used to living alone. The quiet hours stretching out before me. If I’m in need of company, I turn on CBC radio. Or drive downtown to my favourite café for latte and a scone. Or to yoga class. Generally though, my need for solitude far outweighs my need for the company of people. Company tires me. I am an introvert’s introvert.

But now I’m in Florida, out of the cold and into — what exactly?

“It’s all here,” my husband tells me. “You just have to look.”

Easy for him to say, he of the eight bicycles and sailing gear covering every inch of floor space.

I’m starting from scratch.

I decide to start in the pool. Every morning. 20 laps.

At 8 a.m., it turns out the pool at our condo is exquisitely empty. I open the gate, and find row upon row of empty lounge chairs. Silence. Not a soul in sight — at least not until Jose the maintenance guy shows up to it wipe the tables and brush off the lounge chairs. Until then though, no one.

I drop into the deep end of the pool with nary a shiver, the soup-warm water drawing me in. I move slowly at first, three slow laps of easy breast-stroke, then side-stroke, then I flip onto my back and kick lazily, stretching my arms wide. I gaze up at the morning sky, watch the breeze ruffle the palms and feel absolutely blessed. Peaceful. Who knew?

When I reach the wall for the third time, I start in on laps, alternating breaststroke and freestyle, cautious of pulling a muscle. I watch my breath, the sharp inhale every three strokes, the long slow exhale underwater. I hear my yoga instructor in my head, reminding me that this cycle is an ideal way to maintain alertness and calm at the same time. The short, sharp intake of breath energizes, and the long, slow exhales naturally helping the body relax.  I growing stronger with every loop I make. Five. Ten. Fifteen. Twenty. I touch the edge, glance up at the clock. Twenty minutes? Twenty five? I have no idea. I rest my head, close my eyes and flutter kick softly feeling as though I could drop into nap in this very position.

Eventually, I pull myself up out of the pool and slip into the hot tub, letting the jets pummel the tight muscles in my shoulders and hips. I towel off and before I leave, I lay back on a lounge chair and close my eyes. The Florida sun rising over the roofs beats hot on my cheek.

Vitamin D straight up.

I come the next morning, and the next. Here is my solitude. The earlier I come, the longer the quiet lasts.

From bird to fish.

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