Swimming In Icy Waters

Last January next to the down jacket, I packed a bathing suit for a swim in a frozen lake in Wisconsin. I decided to not take the triangle top, because I didn’t want to spend any time adjusting the top in 32 degree water. That would be silly.

Frozen corn stalks dotted stark fields as we drove to Sunset Lake in Portage County, WI. Moments later, sitting on the frozen lake in 11 degree temperature, I watched Jeep and his best friend  BJ augur a hole in the ice. By the time they had gotten to the second hole, the first had frozen over. It was that damn cold. Scared out of my mind, I got up to take a walk. The ice below boomed and cracked and I wondered how fast I would sink with all my clothes on should I slip and break through the ice. I faced the sun and imagined myself on a tropical beach.  I could chicken out, but for some crazy reason, I wanted this experience.

When I returned, all four holes had been dug and they were cutting the sides of the rectangular with a five-foot saw.  As I lended a hand at sawing the edge, BJ joked that this was like having a prisoner dig her own grave. Asshole. I walked away, again.

Soon the rectangular of ice had been cut. Stomping on it several times, the ice floe broke loose and the group, who had come to see the Cali girl jump in ice, pushed it under the shelf.  Jeep stripped down to his bathing suit and jumped. Then, BJ, next, it was my turn. I took off my clothes and stood at the dark water’s edge staring into the icy abyss.  An old man, bundled up against the cold, drove by, staring at me incredulously. I looked at him, then back to the water. I did a little nervous dance, then jumped. The cold absolutely takes your breath away. I popped out like a champagne cork and hauled myself, with assistance, out of the bone-chilling water. Icicles formed on my body as I stuffed my feet into my Sorrels. I whipped off my bathing suit top (so much for modesty) and pulled on five layers of clothing.  Shivering, I trudged toward the car thinking of hot toddies and warm fires.

“Ready to go snow-shoeing?” Jeep asked.

These Midwesterners are crazier than they look.

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