Bradbury Beach, Lake Roosevelt, January 1, 2013
L to R: Jane, Rhonda, Leah, Crystal, Bruce, Jackie
This certainly wasn't my first exposure to a sizable body of water on January 1. No sirree. Why, back in the late '90s I even dipped into the drink three years in a row in 27º weather. Of course on those particular New Year's Days I'd plunged into the Indian Ocean at Beau Vallon Beach in tropical Seychelles, and it was 27º Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Yesterday at the Columbia River's Lake Roosevelt, my polar bear companions were the real deal...truly intrepid daredevils. I snapped the photo above mere seconds before this modest sextette shed their robes and splashed into the icy waters.
Me? I stuck my right hand in the water, and then spent half an hour trying to coax circulation back after it turned an alarming shade of blue, except for my ring finger which bleached whiter than the knee-deep snow we'd waded through to reach the sandy bank. My mittens didn't work one whit to reverse the numbness, so I clutched a paper cup of hot tea between my trembling hands, occasionally dipping my corpselike finger directly into it. The polar bears roasted their hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire, seemingly impervious to the chill.
Some traditionalists might believe a better way to celebrate the year's beginning, when you live just below the Canadian border, would be to stay comfortably ensconced at home with a hot toddy and a good book. Well, I did that too last night, rereading Charles Dickens' The Chimes, which celebrates New Year's, and foreshadows It's a Wonderful Life. A happy end to a happy day!
Dickens reading ‘The Chimes’ to his friends, including philosopher Thomas Carlyle, and artist Daniel Maclise, who drew this sketch, 1844. (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)“So may the New Year be a happy one to you, happy to many more whose happiness depends on you!"--The Chimes, Charles Dickens