Diving into a cold lake

Girl dives into a calm summer lake in the countryside of Vermont

As a writer, sometimes I struggle to produce a description in a scene or feeling I want the reader to experience. I am challenged to get the words just right, so that you understand and experience the emotion and sensations of the story and what the characters are experiencing. This is one of those times!

Every summer, I look forward to re-creating the feeling that occurs from diving into a cold northeast lake after sitting in the scorching sun on a warm summer day. That sense of shock when your hot skull hits the cold water, and then the refreshing tingle all over as you move to break through to the surface and the warm muggy air. Your heart is pounding from the shock and the breath you take when you come up shudders in your lungs. It’s a physical feeling that I love, which may sound crazy, but l think of it often.

It’s not easily re-creatable in a pool or the ocean. Those places have their own sensory parties. Especially the cold north Atlantic where doing this is actually painful due to the freezing temperatures of the water. In order to get this sensation, you must be in a lake, with green trees all around and weeds near the bottom that skim along your feet as you dive deep. The lake must also be deep enough to dive into and to produce the cold water needed for the shock of the change in temperature.

Do you know what I mean?

Maybe words are just not enough to convey that sensory experience. Maybe I am alone in relishing the sensations of diving in an icy lake on a hot day. My family and friends treat me as if I am a bit nuts when asking them to describe their sensations when doing this.

Maybe to me it holds more than just a way to cool off. That lake experience of my youth was pretty awesome. Those were the times when you left home to play in the morning and didn’t come home until supper. My siblings and I would walk in our cut off Levi’s’ cutting through fields and railroad tracks to the little local lake where groups of small-town kids spent their summer days. Hanging out in the sun and cooling off in the lake. Those were some good times.

We used to all go in the water in groups, all diving off the diving board on the dock and out to the raft floating out in the middle of the lake. We laid in the sun to dry off on that floating barge. Turning back when we got hot or hungry or sick of the boys pushing each other into the water.

We were exhausted at night, having walked, biked, and swam all day. Too tired to get into too much trouble at home. I think it’s why our parents loved to send us there. It wore us out.

That feeling of diving into that cold lake will stay with me until I die, I am sure of it. The memories of the banana seat bike, frozen snickers and teen loves. I hope to do it justice in the next in the series of the Stone House Inn books. Killer Recipe is underway and will be out before Christmas is the plan. So now you know there will be a scene–unless it gets edited out—of someone diving into the cold water!

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