Adams Reservoir, Woodford, VT
Water holds a mystical power over me, more today than when I was younger. I swim, I kayak, I soak in a hot tub, I take showers whenever my joints cry to be soothed or my soul needs an energizing boost.    

In Vermont, ponds and even pools are cool, almost cold, even on the hottest days. Once you’re in and moving, the crisp temperature is all you could ever ask for, but don’t go in one toe at a time.

I have access to outdoor swimming pools and a dozen ponds or reservoirs in two states, so I carry gear in the back seat of the car that lets me swim on a whim. Rubber-soled “lake shoes” keep my feet safe from rocks and muck. If the sun is high, I wear full-length rashers to block UV from my ultra-sensitive skin and wacky immune system. Kids gawk at the sight of an old lady in surfer garb, but I just smile and, on the way out of the water, I comment on how the waves suck at this beach.

Sometimes I don’t even swim, but  just go out up to my neck, letting let currents pull me from side to side. If I need to build up strength in my severely arthritic lower body, I cross country ski in the deep stuff, or bicycle back and forth across the pool. Then I do side stroke and back stroke, both very meditative forms of swimming.  

Green River, Halifax VT, Spring 2010
A doomed Piscean, I’d rather be IN water than not, but if I’m on land, chances are I’m looking at one body of blue stuff or another. Our walls are filled with artwork I’ve collected over the years, most of it involving something aqueous. After all, I spent some years living and working on Long Island, New York, where I wrote a book about life on that (very crowded) Atlantic sandbar. 

My husband loves boats, so we’re drawn to coasts and marinas when we travel. Up here in the mountains, we can always find streams or lakes to play in or photograph, any time of the year, frozen or liquid.  

Lake George NY, August 2009
Monterey Bay CA, May 2010
Here are some photos and video I took in and around the Monterey Bay Aquarium this spring.

Pacifica CA, May 2010
Tuna at MBA, May 2010
Leafy Sea Dragon at MBA
Moon Jellyfish at MBA
Black Sea Nettles at MBA, May 2010
For mesmerizing video of jellyfish and sea nettles, go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's own video at

If you want to swim with the fishes without getting wet, go to the MBA kelp forest exhibit and sway with the water plants and animals to hypnotic music. Try not to go when it’s busy, like we did. Too many people making too much noise, but click on the arrow and enjoy the show anyway. See the shark?
For more in this series, click on Swimming as Meditation in the index on the right.
Also, see Cari Shane Parvin's Zen of Swim at http://www.usmsswimmer.com/200511/zenofswim.pdf 



08/24/2010 15:13

Lovely - absolutely lovely. Wish I could see it all in person.

08/25/2010 08:02

I LOVE this post! You and I must be sisters. I believe in Mother Ocean and can't pass a body of moving water...

Glad your summer is good.

08/26/2010 11:14

I love to be near water, but am not aquatic by nature. I would rather look at the ocean than swim in it. I do think your photos are outstanding.

I have been to the aquarium on Monterrey, California and it is really a great one.

08/27/2010 10:57

The first time I saw a tank like this at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego I was enchanted. Three little kids were too, with their hands and noses pressed to the glass as they followed the big fish across the tank, like a ballet. Unfortunately, I've lost the photo. The new natural history museum in San Francisco has a place where you can stand surrounded by fish!

08/27/2010 10:58

Moonlight Beach, by Karen Holmgren

Misty evening sky,
Shy moon concealing her face
behind a trailing a veil of fog
Above an ocean of darkness,
Horizon blurred where they meet.

Black surf rises to a crest,
An eerie green glow flashes as energy climaxes,
Shooting down the wave in a froth of white lace.

Gaggles of sandpipers
dart across the run-up,
Poking and prodding the sand.
They scurry before me like ghosts
Barely discernable in the faint moonlight.

Look! silver fire dances and shimmers,
Scatters and sparkles atop the blackness,
Boiling across the surface.
The moon has shed her veil and is smiling
brightly upon the sea.

I lie on the sand facing eternity,
Mars glistening like a royal diamond
in the necklace of stars around the moon.

Peace surrounds me.

08/27/2010 11:19


Thanks so much for sharing your stunning poetry! You are so talented!

Perhaps we should have a poetry page, where you and others could post your work? If you're interested, let me know and I'll put up an interactive page.

And, thanks for the heads up on the San Diego and San Francisco aquariums. I believe I've been to one in SF (part of the Cali Institute of Science?) and actually posted a few shots from those tanks in the first installment of Swimming, at: http://www.birdsonawireblog.com/1/post/2009/07/swimming-as-meditation.html/

Again, your carefully chosen words add so much to the visuals. Muchas gracias, mi amiga.

09/01/2010 15:29

This was as seductive, as meditative, and as lovely as a deep pond in a quiet wood.

I have a new book that I'll review sortly: The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Thernstrom. My rheumatologist is waiting to hear from me to see if she wants to recommend it to all her patients. We share this pain issue, you and I. Despite the fact that I'd rather do without the lesson, I've accepted that, until medicine catches up with me, learning from the pain is the best thing I can do. I really love your "water cure."

07/27/2012 08:52



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