Tuesday, 31 July 2012


A long-ago July night when I was twelve (or thirteen?):
At our small Girl Guide camp by the edge of Lake Cowichan, our tent plotted to skinny-dip.

I think our captain, volunteer parents, and counselors knew. We were twelve (or thirteen?) and not yet masters of deception. We slipped into our sleeping bags naked, and at the given signal, wrapped ourselves in towels and crept out on the dock, whispering and giggling, lowering ourselves into the water, leaving the towels on the edge.

I've never known a feeling like it, swimming without the elastic constriction of a swim-suit, no pulling pressure on my shoulders as I stroked through the silky black water, looking up at a million stars.

I don't think we could have been out there for more than a few minutes. Did the Guide Captain call us back in? I don't remember.

I was the last to try to clamber out. The others were reaching for their towels when I heard the count from the camp-fire at the next site, surrounded by a quartet of hunched-over young men: "One! Two!" Shrrrrrrrriiiieeeeek!!!!! The girls dropped to their bellies as the combined light of several flashlights hit them. I was still in the water, clinging to the edge, watching the frantically retreating silhouettes when I realized there was no towel waiting for me.

"Guys! Guys??" I called frantically over and over, until one girl threw a towel that wasn't mine and not much larger than a hand-towel in my direction. I don't remember how I got back to the tent.

It seems I've had so many opportunities to experience and re-live humiliation and embarrassment.

But I've never ever had another experience like that precious few minutes in the black waters beneath a black sky full of stars. I tried skinny-dipping again when I was about sixteen. It simply wasn't the same. Some moments will never come back, more moments than we care to admit. Memory has to suffice.

I wonder if Michael Stipes was thinking along the same lines when he came up with the lyrics for "Nightswimming". He has said it's about a "kind of an innocence that's either kind of desperately clung onto or obviously lost.

I'm not sure how obvious it is, and I'm not desperately clinging on to it, but I do remember.

This finishes the July NaBloPoMo for me. Over the past four years, I`ve NaBloPoMoed February, March, April, May, July, August, September, October, and November. I plan to do January 2013 next, provided we all make it past the end of the year. (That`s just me, whistling in the dark. But I can see the stars.)


JoeinVegas said...

As long as you can see the stars it's OK

SOL's view said...

Nightswimming. What a perfect way to describe swimming beneath a black sky full of stars.

Or even just laying on the banks gazing at the Milky Way. Nightswimming. Perfect.