The dip wasn’t planned, like most things I do. On the drive to the camp in the woods, I determined that if I did put the water line into the lake, it could be the earliest date that it ever occurred. For crying out loud, it’s still April.
I knew the ice went out around the fifteenth of the month, and I usually wait until three weeks after the ice goes out to take my chances on priming the pump and charging the water system. Ice can still form in the pump that sits outside. Ice and impellers don’t mix. Ask me how I know.
The thing is, I like showers. The hotter, the better. I need running water to take my showers, and much work is planned over the next month or so.
The issue goes back to my infancy. No, really. It does. In my early years, I was found to be a sweaty little baby. That’s not name-calling. Well, it is. My mother called me a sweaty little baby.
She even took me to the doctor to inquire why I sweat so much. I don’t recall any of this; the doctor told her, between the puffs on a Winston, that some babies sweat more than others. That was the last medical attention that I received for my lifelong condition. Well, that and showers.
I don’t mind working hard, but I want a shower at the end of the day. In the early years at the camp, there was no running water, so there were no hot showers. The summer that I cedar shingled the place, I would merely dive in the lake at the end of the day. Ivory soap floats, and I did too. It was in the heat of the summer, so it made sense.
I’d do the same thing in the spring and fall after a day of hard labor. The cold didn’t bother me as much on those days. Now, I demand a hot shower. Call me a diva.
I scanned the outside temperature gauge on the truck. It read forty-nine degrees when I pulled into the camp yard. I got to work on the chores that could be done without excessive sweating, and then I determined that the next time I came, it would be nice to shower when I got done. That led me to prime the water line and the pump and place the black, one-and-a-quarter-inch water line into the lake.
I usually connect the foot valve to an old iron anchor this early in the season and toss it out a few feet into about three feet of water—the whole plan when awry when the heavy-duty zip ties broke away from the line in mid-toss. The anchor when deep, and the foot valve went shallow.
Retrieval was necessary.
The plan was set. I was going into the lake, probably well up to my neck. I returned to the cabin and dug around for some swimming trunks. Wet jeans would chafe me for the entire one-hundred-ten-mile drive home. Chafing is problematic.
I found the old dark blue trunks covered in tiny white and red smiling whales. The irony was afoot as I slipped into the suit. I say slipped, but I mean squeezed.
From there, it was just inner fortitude that drove the whole process forward.
I can tell you that the water temp was well below optimal, and you could determine that because of the pain that overwhelmed my bones. Ellie watched in silence as she lay in a sunbeam. She’d been in the water already. I couldn’t ask her for pity.
I sat on a rock in the sun for a few minutes post-exit. It’s hard to believe that forty-nine-degree air and a stiff wind could feel so tropical.
I changed back into appropriate camp wear and started attaching faucets, shower valves, and the outside hose. I almost took a hot shower before heading back to town. I didn’t.
Hot water is cleansing, but cold water is refreshing; it reminded me of the days when it wasn’t so easy grabbing a hot shower, and I embraced the thought of it as Ellie slept in the back and I sipped a hot black coffee driving west toward a spring sunset.
I took a shower when I got home. No one likes a big sweaty baby.
From the Jagged Edge of America, I remain,
*To all of you who support this blog by reading, sharing, donating, or just having happy thoughts—I appreciate it.