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Molnar: Lady In The Lake

Martha Molnar
"I ease myself off the rocks. When they give out and the mud and plants begin, I dive in. I’m immersed, tasting and smelling water rich with life."";

When we moved to the so-called Lake District in south central Vermont, we didn’t realize what that meant. A full decade later, we’re still discovering the beautiful lakes and their generous four-season offerings.
Our favorite remains a relatively small lake near Bomoseen. It’s a wilderness lake, so there’s no sandy beach or restrooms. On the plus side, there are no crowds or speeding motorboats either, just a usually silent expanse of pure water surrounded by forest.

Sometimes we bring kayaks, but mostly we just swim. The water lies flat and glittering. I ease myself off the rocks. When they give out and the mud and plants begin, I dive in. I’m immersed, tasting and smelling water rich with life.

Often I’m the only one in the water. Head submerged, I’m encased in a fluid cocoon, deaf to all sounds above me. The water drains all worries, annihilates ordinary thought. Daggers of light make the bluegreen waters translucent. Iridescent fish and serpentine plants stir below me. Corkscrew stems, Medusa curls, giant leaves dance toward the light. In the refracted glow, I too am dancing. Swimming here is primal.

This summer, for the first time, loons live on the lake. They’re sensitive to human disturbance, so this is an affirmation of the lake’s wildness. Swimming far from shore one day, an eerie wail reached me underwater. When I surfaced, very slowly, the loon was only a few feet away. She looked at me, unmoving, then continued to fish. Each time she raised her head out of the water, I froze into stillness, and after assessing me, she continued to fish. The loon and I spent many minutes in this cross-species examination, both of us silent, watchful, until I became tired from the effort of holding still and swam off. The loon remained, not turning to watch me go.

The loon and I, the warm water lapping at my ears, the cedars chiseled darkly in the water, become a string of moments I can recall as needed. They are pure and vivid, like the water in the lake, with the power to refresh me while crawling through traffic or perhaps even sitting in a dentist’s chair.

Martha L. Molnar is a public relations and freelance writer who moved to Vermont in 2008. She was formerly a New York Times reporter.
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