Strange Cold (Day 80)

80th day of swimming!

It was a sunny warm afternoon at the Berkeley Marina where Arwen and I met for a swim. First, we spent a long time relaxing on the dock, soaking in the sun, struggling to make ourselves get into the water when we were so lovely and warm on land. A group of people was learning to kayak, lots of windsurfers and sailors bobbed around in the not-so-windy bay, and several other swimmers paddled around. As is often the case on a beautiful afternoon, the marina felt festive and full of life.

Eventually, we gave up our warm perch and plunged into the water. It definitely felt cold, colder than it should feel, colder than the actual temperature (which our thermometers said was 62!).  It’s always that way—jumping into cold (or coldish) water on a warm sunny day is paradoxically more difficult than when the wind is whipping in icy gusts and the sun is locked deep behind gray clouds. 

This time, though, we stayed chilly for our whole swim. The water was strangely two-toned: warm on the surface and freezing deeper down so that my upper body stayed toasty, while my lower extremities felt icy cold. This meant I never got the warming feeling that comes from full-body immersion into cold water; that process of peripheral blood vessel constriction and core body warming never kicked in. The embodied experience of cold continues to fascinate me for the ways it doesn’t neatly align with the actual temperature of the water.

Despite our chilliness, Arwen and I had a lovely swim out to HS. Lordships where we played in the waves. Still thinking about my fear of yesterday’s waves, I contemplated why waves out in the water don’t scare me at all. Today they were small, but even when they’re twice as big, I only enjoy them. I realized it’s not the waves themselves I find so terrifying, but the way the action of the waves near shore pulls you out like hands grabbing from below, the way you can get stuck out there in the great beyond, the power of the crashing. Out here, it’s just fun. 

One thought on “Strange Cold (Day 80)

  1. Today in SF Aquatic park, another lovely day above water, under, it was so cold I felt there were little knives in joints of hands!


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