Tuesday, March 22, 2011

spring swimming

morning wait for the ferry. headed into town to teach a class at emily carr today.

Last night I had one of the best swims of my life.

I put on my wetsuit and went out at sunset. The sky was grey except for the horizon, where the sun was poking out from the clouds, spraying a glorious dull gold over the water. The ocean was still.

Four sea lions were lumbering past in the far current, raising their dragon-snouts into the air, and exposing their backs and rear flippers like serpents as they submerged. I've seen single sealions out there before, but never four. They're huge creatures - 300 to 900 lbs in weight. I'd hate to get too close to them, but they seem to be more into their own thing than seals. They maintained a slow steady course parallel to the coast following the tide into the sun.

The sea lions scared the seals further inshore than usual, so I had a seal swimming pretty close to me the whole time. I'm way less freaked out by them now, but I still think I'd feel better if I had a diving knife, in case they start getting too comfortable around me and try to play with me and hold me under water.

When I was way out in the water, looking back at the rich greens of the treed shore, a flock of geese burst over the horizon and flew straight overhead, honking loudly. It started to rain a bit, and I lay on my back relaxing in the current, watching the droplets explode and make delicate ripples across the surface of the water.

On the way back in, I watched a river otter lay on his back and suck on some giblets he was picking off the bottom of the ocean.

It's so amazing to be surrounded by such a density of life. The land-equivalent would be stepping into a 3-acre meadow and seeing four black bears, a deer, the geese, and a fox, all within half an hour.

To be immersed in the water with these creatures, feeling the same currents, tasting the same salt, watching the sun set together, equally conscious and wary of each others' presence... to be thinking of nothing but these things, and the movement of my body and the timing of my breath...

If there is such a thing as heaven, I can't imagine it could be any better than that.


  1. Awesome dude. That's the reason I surf.

    There's something exponentially more powerful about experiencing nature in the water. Hiking takes you past nature and over nature. Swimming allows you to literally be in nature.

    Through removing yourself from your natural element you become hyper-aware not unlike travel to somewhere foreign where the subtle nuances and minutia of a daily life different from your own become amplified, interesting and worthy of observation.

    To couple the above with close encounters with wild life makes for a crazy experience.

  2. Well said, Kelsey. I'm totally with you.