Thoreau’s journal entry for 29th December 1851: The sun is risen. The ground is almost entirely bare. The water is the puddles are not skimmed over – it is warm as an April morning. There is a sound as of blue birds in the air, and the cocks crow as in the spring. The steam curls up from the roofs and the ground. You walk with open cloak. It is exciting to behold the smooth glassy surface of water where the melted snow has formed large puddles and ponds … … How admirable it is that we can never foresee the weather – that that is always novel.
Swam two lengths and now my pencil is shivering on the page like the wind on the water. I’m sitting in the bathing cubicle looking at the ripples on the blue pool. The trees are dull bare brown; on my right a red door, and to the left the dark wooden panels of the cubicle wall. I sit and write, for whom I am not sure.
White door jambes
Buckle and sway on the surface
The sunken leaves
The bench I sit on is wooden slats. My buttocks find a comfy fit between the ridges. The cement floor is cracked in places and there’s a drop of red paint and some yellow from the safety stripes on the gutter. I could be so alone but every now and then a swimmer glides by; in the distance the roar of the fountain, the tweet of birds. And now the rain is falling quietly; the red and black sign on a white backboard: ‘No Diving Below 1.5m Depth’.
The body gets used to the shock of the cold and then after a while it begins to crave it; good to feel the ice in the veins; the obliterating delight of intense sensation.
The handrail into the old pool
Pearls on silver
Later, I ride home through the park, ‘zigging’ along the cadenced path beneath the old oak tree and past the iron bench. The head wind burrows through my jacket and seeks out the warm parts of my body but I’m nearly home, passing the corner shop with scribbles in my pocket and a smile upon my face.
Beneath the cherry blossom
The red letter box