Thursday, June 21, 2012


late sunset

I took Munson for a late swim at Lupiac, taking advantage of these longest of days. I only spent twenty minutes in the water but it was balm for body and soul. It takes me about 20-25 minutes to get to the lake but I enjoy a lot of that drive so much; even passing through the short boulevards that announce each small commune on the route gives me a little lift. They’re just one of the little things that differentiate life here even from other not so distant parts of Europe.

Munson is fully engaged on the journey, perched between the seats, scanning ahead and to the side. Just going into town is interesting but when we keep going and take the lake road he is more than interested and looks at me to signal his approval. By the time we’re on the final descent into the basin where the lake was created he’s sooo happy that he’s jumped into the front passenger seat.
boulevard the open road - toot toot!
If anyone wanted to make a horror film called The Lawnmower Man and not want to spend anything on special effects then they’d only need to trail me around after half an hour or so in the garden. While there hasn’t been so much airborne pollen this week to attack my eyes or sinuses, every contact of skin with grass seems to inflame it with a mass of angry welts. Even with medicinal ointments, it takes a day or two to settle down.

I’ve had that experience since I was a teenager in rural Australia so I look for indoor escapes … like swatting flies. Even when I was living in Seattle the pollen would make me sneeze so frequently and explosively that my coworkers called me Bubble Boy. But water is always the cure. In Seattle I couldn’t necessarily swim to escape the pollen (it was a water city curiously sparse in swimmable locations indoor or out), and getting to the beach in Sydney means fighting traffic and then looking endlessly for parking so I can be within five minutes walk to the sand, but here I can step into the water mere seconds after stopping the car.
IMG_1067 MVI_1063

Usually Munson is faster into the water than I am, but as he’s matured he’s begun to wait to get the nod from me before plunging in. This evening he was still reluctant to do much more than lap softly at the water’s edge and then run up and down the shoreline before sitting down to watch me paddle further out. I think he may have been put off by a tractor working the slopes of the farm further up on the opposite shore, its noise buzzing across the lake like an unseen motor boat.

I was able to tune that noise out by focussing on other sounds: a lone swimmer at the other end of the lake, ducks taking off from the hill-shadowed waters behind me.  I missed having Gustav there to share that, so refocussed again: the late light on the water, Munson smiling on the shore, coolness around my toes, red skin consigning its anger to the depths, small recognitions of pleasure jostling each other like a foam of bubbles.

IMG_1071 MVI_1073

Eventually Munson came in and set off like a giant otter albeit one with a bushy white squirrel tail that never got wet, flung up and aft. His heart didn’t seem in it though, his arrival excitement tempered by that tractor buzz and so he went back to his rapid to-and-fro along the shoreline, stopping only to shake himself all over my clothes again.

And then home again,  my music playlist settling into a perfect mood triangle of Sia Furler, Joel Frederiksen and Giovanni Mirabassi’s Cantopiano underscoring more small moments: boulevards, painterly skies, wet dog smell.
Gascon skies


  1. Lesley5:05 pm

    Is it sauvage swimming? Sounds like a real skin relief, pollen is a nightmare and not much helps. Just to share a quaint liking of mine - warm/hot wet dog is a great smell!

    1. Not really wild swimming - there's an artificial sandy beach about 100m from where we go in, but it's plastered with a ridiculous number of "no dogs" signs.

      I see someone has written a guidebook to wild swimming spots in France, but they don't cover this region.