November 07, 2005

How to swim in a marsh


Shallow warm water, filled with weeds and snakes and turtles, can feel luxurious if you go about it the right way.

First, you have to give up the idea that you can stand up. Beneath the shallow water lie layers and layers of muck, all kinds of decayed plant matter, soft and ready to float to the surface. Stir that up, and the water will stay muddy for hours.

If you want to enjoy the clear water near the top, you must approach carefully. You need to slide your body in gently -- and then float, keeping limbs near the surface, nothing brushing against the mucky bottom. An inner tube or floating raft can help. Lie back so that you can trail your arms across the floating beds of weeds. Feel how warm they are, rich with sunlight.

Of course, if you are fourteen years old, that cautious approach simply will not do. Instead, you must run full speed down the dock and leap into the marsh, splattering muck and water onto everyone, calling and teasing and bragging. When you are done, pull yourself up and shake your dripping head like a dog, making sure to get the nearest person wet.

This photo is of Shaggy Hair Boy, enjoying a swim in the marsh.

15 comments:

Psycho Kitty said...

Well, look at you...I go get my gall bladder out and shazam, you have this beautiful new look! I like it!

Running2Ks said...

Blech and ha ha!

Leslee said...

Looks like fun... I think, maybe...

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I forgot about lakes like that! In Central Oregon all the lakes are crystal clear and so unbelievably cold you're shivvering too much to put your feet on the bottom.

I went to college in a fairly snowy part of upstate New York, learned to scuba dive in the local lake -- most terrifying moment of my life so far when I kicked up the muck from the bottom and couldn't figure out which way was up!

angrygrad said...

Shallow water wading is cool - I especially like it when the silver darts of little fishes brush aganist your bare legs

Cecil B. said...

I love water. I grew up on a lake, and I spent many afternoons hiking and swimming in semi-forgotten ponds in the Adirondacks. However, one thing I never could get over was swimming through weeds. Props to anyone who can.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I think I've mentioned this before, but I can't overcome my suburban upbringing enough to swim in swampy water. I was raised in a very artificial, processed environment, and although my adult tastes tend towards the natural, sometimes the childhood sense that nature is icky just overwhelms me.

Pink Cupcake said...

Not sure I could do this - the slime and snakes would freak me out! Yay to you and Shaggy Hair Boy for having a much better sense of adventure than I do... :)

EmmaNadine said...

I grew up on the beach so I never learned to appreciate swampy water. Even now that the biggest body of water for recreating in a lake, I still pick the shore that is the least mucky, because I can't stand the feeling of slime between my toes. Kudos to you for being able to do this.

listmaker said...

The snakes alone would keep me out of there. I grew up wading in creeks; that's about as adventurous as I get.

jo(e) said...

Listmaker: We've got lots of common water snakes, but nothing poisonous, nothing that could harm a person.

halloweenlover said...

I love the picture, Jo(e). Shaggy Hair Boy is such a cutie!

What great memories your kids will have of growing up fearless and adventuresome!

peripateticpolarbear said...

It sounds very fun to me!! (albeit a little cold right now)

jo(e) said...

PPB: Oh, yeah, the photo is from August. Right now, you'd have to break off a thin layer of ice to swim in the marsh.

Beanie Baby said...

That sounds like the lake near my grandparents' old cottage--all mud and seaweeds. It wasn't much for swimming, but it was great for boating and searching for minnows and frogs.