i grew up in a tiny city (not a town, mind you, it has city rights dating back to the dark ages and don’t you forget it!) on the shore of a lake. the lake is deep and cold and unpredictable; there’s nothing to stop a wind from the west so the water can go from dead calm to raging in an instant, and the underwater currents are strong and said to continue underground – one might drown here and surface in another lake entirely.
legend says that it freezes every seven years, but then only after (and if!) smoke comes off the water thrice. it doesn’t bow easily to winter. i only remember it settling entirely once, and i think i was turning seven that year; the waves were building ice caves down by the promenade, and i spent hours tempting fate, slipping and sliding on rocks covered in ice, inches from a dunking (it’s always more fun if there’s a consequence to failing), and then one day my mother and i were walking out to the breakwater and beyond, walking on the lake.
(every first step onto ice – will it/won’t it hold? – is always an adventure.)
ten fathoms. the blinding white of the ice under an endless sky, me and my mother, and then ten fathoms beneath us.
we had a picnic on the breakwater – rolled up flatbread and hot rosehip soup. i climbed the ladder to the lighthouse and waved to the other side.
(on the first of may, tradition (my father) says to have the first bath of the year, in order to properly welcome summer. this is best accomplished by jumping in off of something, such as a boat or the end of the pier, without testing the waters first, so there is no chance to renege. four degrees celsius can make cowards of us all.)