It was another gray morning; fog swirling around as I arrived at the Albany Bulb. The air was chilly and the water uninviting as we reluctantly unlayered at the circle. Getting in was hard, too. The days of diving straight under the waves are over. Now I jump around in the shallows, slowly edging my way further in. Once I achieve full body immersion I still can’t put my face in for another minute or so. But then, once I’m acclimated, I feel wonderful. The cold, which moments before was uncomfortable, becomes delicious. It’s still not all that cold (low 60s, I think—my thermometer needs a new battery) and I find myself marveling that we did this all winter, that we will do it again, that it will get much colder and I will love it.
I rode that delicious cold out toward the point, following behind bright buoys, and enjoying a nice, steady swim.
On the way back, I lifted my head at one point and noticed the head beside me was not donning a bright cap, nor towing a buoy. I stopped, lifted my goggles, and saw the seal looking back at me. I scanned my immediate vicinity for another swimmer, but there wasn’t anyone nearby.
“Ok,” I said out loud. “Ok, it’s a seal.”
It disappeared before I could think of anything more interesting to say and I continued my swim back to shore. It was more disconcerting than it had been the other day with Marcia; even though I wasn’t quite alone, there wasn’t anyone very close to me like there had been that day, but I still managed to avoid full-blown panic and I’m celebrating that fact.