22 January 2006

night swimming

It's been so long since I swam in the sunshine that when I managed to do it today, everything seemed too bright and tropical. I could see rays filtering through the blue water, and when I turned to breathe, pink-edged clouds framed blue sky. The pools here are open all year, thanks to the abundance of hot water, and they have become an essential method to maintain sanity in the dark of an Icelandic winter. I have come to know the bottoms of all the pools in the area, as I trace the navy stripes from one end to the other. There's the aerated center stripe of Árbær, the dark navy stripe painted on concrete in Hveragerði, and the fish painted on the side of the pool in Vesturbær. Some slope gently from one end to the other like Laugardalslaug, others have a seam in the center where the drop to the deep begins. There are drains and filters marking certain lanes, and in some, names have been scratched in the far end of the lanes. You could blindfold me, put me in a pool here, and I'd know which one I was in by the end of a lap.

Swimming in the darkness, as it has been for months during my weekday workouts, takes on a special magic that adds coziness to the dark months here. The steam spirals off the water and mixes with the stars, and under the surface the swimmers are suspended in Esther Williams water-ballet poses. Some pools are dark (laugardalslaug with only half the lamps on one side working) and some are glowing aquamarines of illumination. In the dark ones, the light filtering from above turns the bottom into a batiked swirl of bubbles and motion that shifts as I cut through the water. This is my best thinking time, and sometimes I find that I have gotten so lost in my train of thought that I have miscounted all my laps. I guess it doesn't really matter though, since I get what I need out of these times in the steamy darkness- exercise, time for thinking, the meditation of repetitive motion, and the quiet of the under-surface world.

Ship sighting: A cargo ship called the Mary Arctica is due to leave in a half hour, and on one of the photos I found of the ship (not in such dramatic surroundings) she was flying the flag of Greenland. I guess that's the scenery in the ship photo, and is definitely one of the places I want to visit. I've seen it a few times en route to Boston, and it looks like a fascinating and chilly place. Until I can hop aboard the Mary Arctica on her way further north though, I will have to continue contemplating my own view, as shown in today's photo.

1 comment:

ECS said...

I went to the window at 7:30 and I did see the unmistakeable shape of a cargo ship cruising out past Akranes. That boat can move! It must have been high in the water and with only a light load.