In the Swim of Things with Mr. Wu

Mr. Wu's Mu Shu Vegetables are crunchy flavorful wonders.

Eureka! I seem to have discovered the elusive  secret to getting some sort of physical activity into the the mix of the day.

By eating a late lunch–and then leaving the office by 5:30 or 6, I seem to be able to insert an hour of swimming or walking into my allotted 24 hours. (How I wish for another 8 hours–EVERYday!)

With shrimp and fresh, vividly green asparagus for dinner last night, and again for lunch today–and  Mr. Wu’s most marvelous crunchy and zesty Mu Shu Vegetables tonight–I am feeling like I have the world by the tail.

It must be said though, that the one problematic thing that I note about my swims  is that they are accompanied by the same gargantuan appetite that were the aftermath of my earliest swims as a child.

In my dimmest memory I can recall the small pink dotted bathing suit and the smell of my mom’s rubbery old timey bathing cap which dates all the way back to Selma. Flash forward –and my first memory of a truly wondrous swim backstrokes to the small swimming pool located in a very small town called Calera.

For as many hours as I was allowed, I would swim and jump into the pool from the sides and finally from the diving board at a frenetic pace. When I was finally entreated to get out and dry off,my legs felt as though they were made of rubber. I did not experience this delightful sensation again until my first yoga class. It is a delightful feeling.

My mom or my daddy would tell me, as all parents do, “Time to get out now!” and I would always do as I was told–not like other kids, who amazed me with their boneheadedness and lack of gratitude who refused to exit at their parents request.

I wonder what happens to people like that? Do they grow up to  be ungrateful for their privileges?

If I could not take joy from the time that I have had to enjoy the beauties of my life, I would surely have gone mad by now, for I have had to exit the waters of happiness more than once.

For me it was a great privilege to swim in the deliciously blue and vibrant waters of this small town public pool.

But it was not a privilege enjoyed by everyone. Only white people.

The town was adamant that no person of color would swim in the waters enjoyed by the white people of that town. And so the pool was not only closed–but to avoid what I suppose would have been a court imposed injunction, the city fathers elected to  fill the pool up with sand and dirt until there was no pool for anyone.

And that was the end of my pool days for quite awhile, except for summer camps, until I began to swim at the university pool with my classmates when I was in junior high.

Instead of pools we swam in lakes located in woodland parks like Oak Mountain,  and in streams  and quarries. And sometimes even the ocean.

There is nothing as beautiful or as surreal as swimming in a quarry. It is like swimming in a hole exacted by a meteorite, filled with a clear blueness that is otherworldly because it is so crystalline that it becomes a mirror if the sky itself.

Swimming in a quarry is one of those life experiences that I count most dear.To be young and in your teens and full of life and strength under a cloudless blue sky in a pool of fresh blue water surrounded by white limestone –that is more than a memory. It becomes a part of who you are.

But just as the freedom and beauty of the quarry exists forever in my soul, so does that forlorn image of the cement pond in Calera, filled to the top with sand,  so that no one–black or  white–would ever be able to swim in it again.

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