When I asked Peter what I should write my column about this week, he suggested I talk about swimming in lakes.
It was intuitive, since we had just gotten back from an afternoon of escaping the unintuitive Alaska heat with a dip in Trail Lake, directly along the Seward Highway.
The four of us packed into the car and filled it with that fiery energy you have on a sweltering day. We stopped at Bear Lake, hoping to cool down sooner rather than later. But, troves of children and their parents with the same thought were already packed along the parking lot turned shoreline of the lake. It seemed like a fun party, but not one that a group of adults (and no children) with varying levels of actual bathing suits should dive into.
So, we drove a bit farther down the highway toward the Vagt Lake trail head. After some hemming and hawing, we decided not to hike to the trail’s namesake and, instead, just waded into the large lake right in front of us.
The thing about large lakes, though, is that they’re cold.
I stood there, taking minuscule steps as more and more of my body was in the water. My top half was sweltering, my bottom half was frigid and I was cautiously trying to skew the percentage under the waterline. It was cold, but we were hot and desperate times call for desperate measures.
Gillian and I waited to acclimate, then waded farther. Patrick and Peter scurried to the nearby train bridge and jumped in.
Once we were all in the water to some degree, everyone agreed — “It’s not that bad once you’re used to it.”
And it was true. Once we got used to the temperature, it wasn’t so bad. I even went over to the bridge and jumped off despite being a little, teeny, tiny bit afraid of heights. I ignored the fear and jumped in the cold water and, guess what? It wasn’t that bad once I got used to it.
With our body temperatures lowered, we were more acclimated to the heat. We still drove home with the windows rolled down and the air flowing in, but we weren’t as wound up as we were on the drive out to the lake. We were used to, prepared for the stagnantly high temperatures now.
I’ve gotten used to a lot of things this summer.
I’ve gotten used to talking in cars over the sounds of air streaming through the windows — a skill I had learned during New Jersey summers, but lost the knack for in Alaska.
I’ve gotten used to the constant humming of a fan in my bedroom window and, now, it helps lull me to sleep when Seward’s alleys are a little too loud on a Saturday night.
I’ve gotten used to wearing the same pair of shorts over and over, because they’re the only work appropriate shorts I have. I would’ve invested in a second pair, but I kept expecting the heat wave to break.
I’ve gotten used to finding ways to cool down and enjoy the unusual Alaska heat wave that’s quickly becoming the norm rather than unusual.
I’ve gotten used to waking up each morning and looking to check how bad the wildfire smoke is in town. I’ve stopped checking to see if it’s raining, because it’s not, and instead just hope I can see Mount Marathon through the smoke.
I do hope, though, that the next time I ask Peter what I should write my column about he doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t say swimming. I hope he just says, “All this rain.”