You know that my usual practice on Mondays is to give you an image and call it a night. Tonight, I couldn't get images to upload for a little while and decided to give you a wee word picture. And then the images started working again. So now you get both.
When I was ten, we went on a company vacation to the Gulf coast of Alabama. I actually remember feeling surprised to learn that Alabama had a Gulf coast. I'd seen the Atlantic, once that I could remember. The Gulf of Mexico is an entirely different thing. My favorite thing to do, that first summer (we went back for many more), was to put on our cheap swim mask and swim about in the shallows with tiny fish; I have always loved swimming in goggles and masks, because water somehow goes a long way toward helping correct my vision, and so though I was already in steadily thickening glasses by that point, I could see the fish clearly. My other favorite thing to do was to catch the little waves and ride them on my stomach. Occasionally, I mistimed, started up a half-second too late. And then those little waves turned out not to be so little, so gentle. Then, water would pull me under, push me down, hold me there, immobilized. Then, it was too dark, and the sand was too near, and all was too furiously silent, sound rushed away with light, with air, with strength. The water pushing over met the water pulling back; I hung in suspension without the grace of the fishes. And then I could struggle again. And then I could stand again. And then I could see, once again, that I was only ten feet from shore, that the water was only knee-deep. And then I could turn towards putting myself at the waves' perilous mercy again. I was no thrill-seeker, still am no thrill-seeker, and foolhardiness has never been my strong suit either. I suspect that even at ten I knew these were minor league dangers. And that summer, my notions of water's dangers were blissfully, willfully naïve. That summer, it didn't matter to me that I couldn't see my feet when we swam.