She dreamt of walking away from the house, down the sloping lawn, with the grass chilly on her bare feet. The grass gave way to the dock and its old, gnarled wood.
She didn’t look behind her, but she knew she was leaving footprints of dew on the dock. Wet footprints going the opposite way of usual. It was far more usual to climb onto the dock from the lake and leave wet footprints heading back to the house.
The warm summer wind caressed her, causing light ripples in her white nightgown. Ripples like on the lake’s surface. Ripples that slowly drifted toward the dock and softly landed on the shore. Ripples ending with a plush lullaby of sound.
She slipped into the water, and found it to be warmer than the grass. She pushed off from the dock with her feet, sending her into deeper water. Deep enough to easily float in, and she turned to float on her back.
Floating like this, she felt her cares dissolve away. As her mother had taught her when she was a child trying to learn how to swim. How she had been so very anxious about the lake, not having the safety of the wall of a pool to hang onto.
Relax, her mother had said. Relax and float. Breathe out. Let your body go limp. You will get your bearings. You will get your strength. And then you will swim where you want to go.
It had been hard to live those words as a child. And still hard as an adult. But there was such deep wisdom in her mother’s advice. Wisdom that went beyond floating in a lake.
Here, in these words, she returned. In times of turmoil and anxiety and sadness of missing those glowing summers at the lake house. So she returned to the lake in her dreams. Went back there to float, especially at night, when the world was quiet. No neighbor kids splashing and shrieking. No motorboats roaring the pride of their owners.
Only the lullaby of the ripples. Only the sound of the water with her ears underwater. Only the stars high above, sending their light down upon her, and they whispered, Everything takes time. Float for a while. Get your bearings. Summon your strength and courage. And then swim where you want to go.
The photo above is by Toni Frissell, and it is in the public domain because was gifted by Ms. Frissell to the U.S. Library of Congress. Click on the image to jump to its Wikipedia page.