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About wanting to touch a big, green buoy

Something touches my foot. “GEEZUS MOTHERFRIGGING-“

The plan had been to touch the big, green buoy floating 60m offshore of the Flughafensee. I get within a 3m radius of the thing, but then – HECK NO, I am NOT touching a buoy that might be floating right on top of a kelp forest (do kelp even grow in lakes?!), which will absolutely, no-questions-asked wrap around my leg and suck me down.

I quickly swim back to the shore. My feet touch the safety of the sand underneath the murky lake water – instead of whatever THAT just was. Billfried, my bikelock masquerading as a wild swan, looks my way. I swear he’s smirking at my antics – if swans could smirk.

Just a few minutes ago I’d told my feathered friend: “I got this!” as I waded out into the 5-7°C cold water.

My bravado lasted about as long as it took for a lake-based plant to tickle my toes.

“I’m done for today,” I try to tell Billfried. My lips are so numb from the cold that it’s hard to form words with my mouth. Billfried just fluffs up his feathers in response and waddles out into the water as if to say: “I ain’t scared. Why are you?”

I don’t know. I’m generally pretty sure that any giant catfish roaming the bottom of this lake don’t really care much about me treading water above them. But I don’t know for sure. And I think that’s the problem – the lack of certainty.

For all my sight (and hyperactive imagination) can tell it’s just me, the water, and whatever evil lurks beneath the buoy.

Over the next few weeks, I slowly begin to increase the time I spend in the water. I go from swimming 300m to 1K along the shoreline till finally, finally, I am brave enough to make it across the deepest segment of the lake, snagging 2K in total. And as I swim farther, I work on my ability stay calm and deal with The Unknown touching my feet.

And one day, a cormorant is spooked off his perch by a gleeful cackle.

I finally touch the big, green buoy.


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