The title of this column is actually a quote by Loren Eiseley. In fact, I used to own a T-shirt with this quote on it. It’s always been an amazing medium to me, that’s for sure. For there is nothing that can create magic quite as easily as water.
I always feel better in or around water. Perhaps that’s because my zodiac sign is a water sign, or maybe it’s just because water has those magical qualities. I’ve always loved the rain, and rainy days never depress me. It doesn’t matter if it’s just drizzling softly outside or coming down like cats and dogs, the rain always seems to make everything better.
In fact, there’s a website that plays a recording of a thundershower, and I use it many times to fall asleep to. The name of the website is rainymood.com. It’s especially nice to listen to in wintertime, when I’m really missing the rain and thunder.
Rain also makes awesome fun things like puddles and rainbows. And in the winter rain turns to amazing little snowflakes, which if you are lucky enough to see separately against something dark, you can appreciate how beautiful and delicate they are.
That brings me to snow, which can create all sorts of beauty and its own kind of fun. The kind of fun that brings out the kid in a person, and that’s always a good thing. Water takes many forms, and all have their own kind of magic.
It’s no wonder kids have so much fun in the bathtub. Water is a lot of fun. We use it in all sorts of play, like water balloons and squirt guns, water slides and city fountains. Water makes us feel like a kid again.
Water can shock, and water can soothe, but it still has that quality to bring out the kid in us. There was a time I threw a party for my theater friends during the dead of winter. Quite a few of us enjoyed the hot tub that evening, until someone decided it would be fun to make snow angels.
Suddenly everyone was out of the tub and in the backyard making snow angels in their swimming suits, and when they were done, they ran to the front yard to do the same. I thoroughly enjoyed watching my friends’ playful antics, but I stayed in the hot tub.
A few years later, I found myself learning how to kayak on the Chain O’Lakes one fine sunny Saturday. Being on the water all day, splashing around and taking time to stop and swim, exploring little creeks and inlets, observing the diverse wildlife, enjoying the smiles and laughter of other folks on the water who were constantly waving to us – it made me feel 14 years old all over again.
It was a glorious day and I didn’t want it to end. I could have stayed out and paddled until dark that day, I felt so good and had so much energy. And it was the magic of the water.
Fast forward to last weekend, when I was lucky enough to be invited by a very dear old friend to spend a day on the lake. Days on the lake are few and far between, and I knew there magic to be experienced, so I jumped at the chance. It was a perfect August summer day, with the temperature in the high 80s.
When we got to the lake, it was absolutely marvelous, sparkling in the sun between the trees and beckoning us to come and play.
Our hosts were out for a bike ride, so we had a seat in the backyard and chatted while we waited for them to return, admiring the beauty of the day and the lake. Two kayakers paddled by, followed by loud and clumsy splashes. Their voices were oddly stern, and loudly telling someone to go home.
I stood up to take a look, and a handsome yellow lab was desperately trying to keep up with them on the shore, expressing his disappointment at being left behind with soft, long whines, as if to say, “How could you do such a thing?” It made us laugh.
Eventually our hosts and the other guests arrived, and we had a wonderful potluck brunch next to the water. After cleaning up and enjoying a good hour or so of conversation, our hosts ushered us down to the lake, where there were all sorts of toys waiting to be played with. Kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, water skis, big tubes for tubing and plain old-fashioned inner tubes for floating. A few yards off the deck was a nice-sized raft to dive from.
I felt like a kid at Christmastime! I couldn’t wait to get in the water and play. Before I did though, I was surprised by one of the guys who took a long running dive off the end of the dock, and his wife, who followed close behind in similar fashion.
After a few more minutes, I noticed something even more interesting. I realized there was no longer a small group of middle-aged folk. Somehow the water had transformed us all within moments into giddy 12-year-olds. And it was the magic of the water.
The boys were out on the raft, pushing girls into the water and splashing others in the water to get their hair wet. I heard a lot of razzing and teasing and started to have flashbacks of the many summers I spent at a nearby lake camping with my parents, swimming out to the raft and getting razzed and teased and pushed into the water without my consent for many happy hours.
Some went out on paddle boards, some on inner tubes. And of course, the boys did cannonballs off the raft in an attempt to splash the girls, and it was wonderful. I was delighted with the transformation and loving every moment of it. The lake felt like bath water and everyone was really enjoying themselves.
A few headed out for some tubing, and I took my turn as well. I hadn’t done it in what seemed like a lifetime, when my children were much younger. I wasn’t sure I could still do it, but I had to find out. They tied the tubes to the boat and pulled a pair of us out on the lake, with me anxiously clutching the handles.
Being the new girl in the group, I think they went a little easy on me. But not too easy, as there were a few times I was sure I was going to flip, but I didn’t. Needless to say, I felt those muscles for days afterward, but proudly so, as I had ridden the waves like a trooper.
As the day drew to a close, I found myself tired in a really good way. Tired and thankful. The magic of the water had done its job. I had had a wonderful day with great people, and truly enjoyed the beauty of … well, life.
The beauty of the woods and water, the beauty of wind and sun, and most importantly, the beauty of friendship. I felt very lucky and blessed, and it was all because of the magic of the water.
Originally published August 21, 2015 in the Portage County Gazette.