My self-imposed open-water season commenced this week—earlier than usual!
I know what you're thinking: "How badass is she?!" ;)
But, in reality, I'm a wimp: whenever I can't see the bottom in a deep, cold glacial lake, I think of prehistoric monsters. (Unintended bonus: these thoughts make you swim faster!) Of course, those monsters should get the paddle-boarders first. After all, they're further out!
This week in smartphone photography: as the deep glacial lake gets colder and colder by the day, the only North American willing to challenge me at open-water swimming is this mallard (in this part of the continent, at least).
Perhaps, she is Russian, too!
Tonight were my harshest open-water swimming conditions of the season. But I'm not complaining.
Well, maybe that one time I got hit in the face with a mouth-full of water as I came up for air wasn't so pleasant.
It's a small price to pay for feeling totally badass!
Monday brought my first real open-water swim of the year! My previous attempt - in a wet suit - from about a month ago when I lost feeling in my hands and feet after about ten minutes doesn't really count. It was refreshing, literally and figuratively, to struggle against the elements and get hit by the waves in the face a few times outside of the hospital-room safety of the swimming pool.
Welcome to the much-awaited summer swimming season!
As luck would have it, I am now a thousand miles away in another country. Hopefully, there will be more swimming and some worthwhile photographic opportunities.
And internet access. :)
This week in smartphone photography: bad puns is what the Internet is all about.
Besides, I couldn't resist.
After all, whenever I do something "badass," I feel a little like Vladimir Putin, who has successfully positioned himself in this manner.
Swimming for an hour in cold glacial lakes qualifies, n'est-ce pas?
And just like earlier in the summer, I swam with the Moon on my left and the Sun on my right. Regularized swim strokes--below, repeated cycles of Nature--above.
Postscriptum. The blue, daytime Moon was photographed with a telephoto lens a bit later, not a smartphone, but I trust in your intellectual abilities, Dear Reader! ;)
I consider myself a cautious person.
Although, after last year's visit to Tokyo, my friends there started referring to crossing the street on a red light as "walking like a Russian."
And then there was that time that I came too close to wild animals.
Also, there was...
Okay, I should amend the above to being "cautious by Russian standards."
Because we, Russians, can be pretty reckless, and I'm certain that you've seen at least one Youtube video demonstrating the latter (more like ten!).
Friday night, I went open-water swimming...BETWEEN TWO THUNDERSTORMS.
I was not trying to become the lucky recipient of a DARWIN AWARD. In fact, I even checked the forecast--HOURLY!--and the sky was blue. Proof:
Furthermore, there were several paddleboarders out on the lake with the same idea. Americans. This tells me that I'm no more reckless than the typical inhabitants of the greater Pacific Northwest. (You should watch them perform helicopter rescues out here, but that's a story for another time!)
Oh, and the post-swim storm clouds? They looked like this:
I try to keep this blog limited to my creative pursuits--professional and personal. Even my mobile self-portraits are often taken when I'm out photographing landscapes and wildlife. Of course, at times, a glimpse of my personal life comes through, for better or for worse.
So, I am posting these candid shots--rather, screen shots from a smartphone video of me swimming--solely because this is an activity that brings me joy. A sense of achievement (even if small) follows a challenge (even if small).
Solitary. And out in Nature.
(We shot the video, because I wanted to see my form, and was pleased to find small mistakes only. Of course, I'm just an amateur.)
It's difficult not to sound sappy or trivial, but I'm a firm believer that it's physical labor and/or exercise that function as the best "anti-depressant" when things are tough.
That and music.
And further away:
This evening, the waters were quite rough, and I was the only one swimming. The lake and the mountains were mine, and so was the giant blue Moon, which rose above the clouds to oversee my progress.
The mind is a curious thing. Things long-forgotten manifest themselves when you least expect them.
Just like that.
Unlike land-based athletics, you (obviously) cannot listen to music while swimming. And, it is best to clear your head of the day's worries, let it be blank--in a quasi-meditative state--to focus on extending each arm as you crawl through the waves rotating your body, and your kicks, which make you feel like you're doing ballet (!) under water. (You're also listening for irritating gas-guzzling jet skiers--because you value your limbs--who tend to come dangerously close to the buoys.)
And it is at that point that your mind starts playing tricks on you. Perhaps, it's the underwater plants' fleeting caress or simply the disorientation of being pushed by the waves, but today all I could hear in my head was:
The Sea grows turbulent (literally--"worries") once, the Sea grows turbulent twice, the Sea grows turbulent thrice. Sea Creature, freeze on the spot!
But in Russian:
Morje volnuetsia raz, Morje volnuetsia dva, Morje volnuetsia tri. Morskaia figura, na meste zamri! (Море волнуется раз, Mоре волнуется два, Mоре волнуется три. Mорская фигура, на месте замри!)
These lines are from a children's game--indeed, a very basic game for very small children of which I had no recollection.
And you know what? I stopped a couple of times when I hit the word, "Freeze!"