What are you doing?


Outwardly nothing.

Inwardly, I'm being with the rain.


Friends ask me what I do at our summer place. I usually give a fairly flippant answer. We swim, drink tea, eat, and sit around and talk about what we are going to eat next.

But it usually takes me about a week to switch into Matinenda time.

It's best explained that my logical brain turns off, and my sensation brain turns on. Perhaps I should say my Apollonian, verbal, digital, planners' brain shuts up, and my Dionysian, artistic, interrelational visionary brain takes over.

At the moment, I'm sitting in beauty. An afternoon thunderstorm is rampaging itself across the lake, and the surface is changing every few minutes. Dark, smoky emerald green with a mirrored surface. Now the downdraft, and it turns to rough steel, light and dark grey with multitudes of tiny cracks and breaks. The cloud's belly opens, and water sluices out.

Fish start to swim up out of the surface of the water, and skate around in the air. The first few do it tentatively, jumping up, not sure if it will really support them. Then a brave fish decides to see of he can soar, and takes off like a bird. Soon all his fishbuddies are following, and they are so unused to swimming amongst trees, that a game of tag ensues. They zip over our wet heads like hummingbirds. Hummingfish? And fish laughter follows the school/flock.


Wait, where was I? Now the lake has changed again. If anything, the sky is pouring even harder, and the lake surface is starting to bubble like a fountain. The sound on the roof tells me it's hail. We dash out, wanting to feel the cold hardness after the spongy hot humidity of earlier.

The hailstones last the longest on patches of moss. The moss elevates the hailstones a few inches into the air, where the are cooler than on the sunwarmed ground. I throw the hailstones into my tin cup, where the vaguely murky remains of a gin and tonic have been gathering pine needles. Anything that ends up in my cup here, I'll drink.

The chipmunks have a discussion, and coming to the same conclusion that I have, they start to grab the hailstones and ferry them down into their dens. They apparently save the hailstones to cool their drinks - or make ice cream? during the hot weather.


Now a shaft of sunlight has cut diagonally underneath the thunderhead. The heat and rain combine to instant fog. The nearest spot at the end of bay, a grey granite cliff, disappears. Avalon, receding into the mist. We are suddenly isolated, presented with a silver grey lake that blends into a curve of dramatic fog and black sky.

The fog shreds, and the world becomes microclimactic. One of the rays hits a patch of moss near me. Steam rises. I'm only the size of a frog, the moss my tree, the lichen my firewood, the toadstool my shelter. I have spent hours on my stomach, living in my imagined miniature home. A bonsai'd tree, flowing down the curve of promontory becomes my treehouse, as my fingers leap from branch to branch.

The storm clears.

I swim the distance from this start to the farthest point, my longest swin this summer. The water is pure silk. I gradually become more mermaid than human. I actually taste a change in the water - there is an edge here, where the water becomes less clear, slightly warmer, with a little bit muskier taste. My intellectual human brain knows that I have have entered the corner of the bay where water is more stagnant, and collects pollutants and heavy metals. Our friends down there filter before drinking. My temporary mermaid self knows just via senses, the texture of the water on my skin and the smell/taste. Getting back out on the rocks is so awkward, having to turn my body back from fluid to solid. My bones feel awkward, stiff, unnecessary. My balance wobbles. Oh, to be made of liquid always.


What are you doing?


Outwardly nothing.

Inwardly, I'm being with the water.

What are you doing?


outwardly nothing

Inwardly, I am on a journey. I am back at the lake. It's been three years. I am at the lake when the family is not there. I take old friends who have never been there. One knew my sister as I did and has known me for thirty years.

He and his wife and his six year old love the lake. And the six year old wants freedom as we all want but there are rules and you must wear your lifejacket on the front rocks until you can swim and can swim a certain distance and we never get in the canoe when it is on the rocks, it must be in the water or the canoe will be hurt and my uncle's shade is over my shoulder and I can hear him yelling about the canoes as his parents yelled at him. The birchbark canoe that he and my mother destroyed still awaits repairs. And I demonstrate how to tip a canoe over when we go swimming and how fast it goes. "You may try it, but first you must practice jumping in the water. Do you want to?" No, he shakes his head, no, the small canoe went over so fast.

They leave and I am alone. I am not alone. The dead are there, their ashes, their words in the log, their voices in my head, their heights marked on the wall of the Little Cabin, my sister's clothes, a marker for my uncle, my grandmother's bed has been taken apart and is now a bench and I grieve about change and loss but it goes on. My sister is a sea otter but there are no sea otters at the lake and she is at the lake with me because she said, "How will I find you?" and I told her how and she was satisfied. No sea otters, but there are river otters, they come, a family, three, playing and fishing. I sing to them, Pie Jesu and they watch me curiously and go back to fishing and I think of my father my mother my sister and that I think they would be happy to be river otters in the lake together and fishing. I am with them almost and crying. My grandmother is a white pine and in the mink, my grandfather is a dragonfly, my uncle is the snapping turtle, I wonder what my friend's son is, dead at 22, and the next animal I see is a merganser, the hooded merganser with two babies and she is leading me away from them while I am in the canoe, they are hidden I know about where and she circles back to say that now they can come out and are safe and I think yes, that would be right, a child who grew to a young man and was lost, he might choose to be a mom next caring for these young and careful and nurturing them, protecting them, hiding them, leading danger away.

Loons call and I answer and my voice lessons have helped my loon calls, I can hit the high notes now. A long conversation with a loon with me in the blue canoe and the loon wondering, do I have a loon trapped in my boat or am I in fact a loon, yes, I think I am, I will be a loon not a human any more

I can't swim for long, not yet strong enough, the taste of the water is ingrained, layers of memory back to five months old and beyond, in the womb, has the lake marked my dna in three generations, I don't know but I am in the water I am of the water I am water tears and water

written 8/29/15

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