Night Swimming

If you make it through this post without getting the R.E.M. song stuck in your head you’re lucky… or don’t know the song.

Night swimming… an activity I find to be very magical, and somewhat rare. There’s something really special about swimming in a dark body of water lit only by the moon and the stars. The water is ripe to absorb the moon magic, allowing one to bathe in the spiritual waters. I guess that’s waxing a bit poetic…

But really, I love swimming at night, and jump at any opportunity to do so.

Until I moved to Texas in 2005 I always lived in cold places where the natural bodies of water were generally fed by snowmelt. Brrr. It was cold to swim during the day, let alone at night. So I was only able to experience the magic of night swimming on very rare occasions, with one major exception. My grandmother lived in Phoenix and we frequently went to her townhouse, which had a beautiful community pool. I remember from an early age going to the pool at night with my parents and/or grandmother. My parents and grandma are/were pool people, so going to the pool multiple times a day was commonplace.

I felt the magic of night swimming in my youth during all those nights at the pool. And I think it’s pretty cool that my parents regularly enjoyed the activity with me. Phoenix is crazy hot in the summer, and I vividly remember getting to go to the pool after dinner, or after whatever evening activity we did. The cool water took the heat out of my body, and the quiet water made me ready for bed. My parents still keep up the practice as they now live in Phoenix, and have their own pool. Last summer when I was there we swam just about every night. After whatever evening activity we did, we came home and got in the pool and stayed there awhile. After that it was time for bed. In many ways my non-pagan parents imbued me with the gift of night swimming, and all those magical nights in the pool have stayed with me into my adulthood.

Pool magic is a bit different than that of a natural body of water. Part of the pool magic is in the lights, and for a really magical experience, the pool sprinklers. The best was swimming in Phoenix when a thunderstorm was in the distance. Talk about rare… watching lightning at night while swimming…profound. Of course the storm had to be pretty far off, but in a place like Phoenix you can see a lot of sky at once, so it was completely possible to swim and watch lightning at the same time.

This all reminds me of a place that made for great night swimming. The Verde Hot Springs near Camp Verde, AZ. They are natural hot springs that require a nice little hike to get to. The lore I heard was something of a resort was built up around them specifically for mobsters in the 1940’s. I have no idea if that’s true, but the springs were once “built up”. They have seats carved into them, and the main pools are paved. Some are even carved out in a cave where bats live. You can actually sit in the spring and look at the bats…it’s borderline creepy cool. The place is all in a bit of a ruin state, which only enhances the mystery, lore, and the magic. There is also a pool with a hut built around it. Over the decades hundreds of people have left their art on the walls of the hut, adding to the spirit of the pools. And the many visitors to the spring have left rock cairns, peace signs, and various rock art on the bank across from the pools. This also has built up the magic of the place, and all this spirit is truly palpable.

I was lucky enough to swim in those pools at night a few times, and every one was its own unique, magical experience.

Walking back to camp at night is a different story. One filled with rattlesnakes and night creatures, but I’ll just leave you to speculate on how that went down.

I now am the proud owner of my very own ring pool, and you better believe I’ll be coming back to that in a couple letters, as my ring pool is a magic brew all it’s own. BTW, a ring pool is a portable pool made of pliable plastic. The top is a ring you blow-up so it helps to float up the walls, that’s why it’s called a ring-pool.

So now I can night swim whenever I want. One can even buy all sorts of fun lights for above ground pools, and I have a nice collection. One advantage to the above ground pool is I can change the lights to match and heighten the magic. I have a bunch of ideas for good magic that can be done in a little private pool like that. I’ll share more when we get to “P” for what else? Pool.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what the night swimming magic is. The calm, the dark, the mystery, the sky… something in the combination of all these things make night swimming a magical experience that I can’t describe in words. R.E.M. understands, and they’re here to help me out a bit-

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
The recklessness in water
They cannot see me naked
These things they go away
Replaced by every day

remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit around the fairest sun?