amanda garnier and i went to walden pond today on this second day of yet another summer heatwave.

i woke up this morning at 9am with some errands to run. i drove to star market to buy some snacks for the trip, seedless green grapes, bag of carrots, box of triscuits, some bottled water, and a bag of ice to keep everything cold. star market is pretty empty in the mornings, populated with mostly housewives doing their family shopping. afterwards i drove to the new watertown mall target to pick up a nifty rubbermaid cooler to put everything in. coming back home, i filled up the ford explorer with gasoline.

i drove to amanda's place in brookline to pick her up, got lost a little bit and wandered through some very posh section of her town. brookline isn't such a bad place to live. but for me, having grown up in belmont, having lived most of my life north of the charles river, brookline might as well be another country. i'd love to have a home in both towns though, cambridge and brookline. i'm getting ahead of myself though, not yet moved into my first house, and already i'm yearning for a second. i'm house greedy! anyway, picked up amanda and we drove to concord, to walden pond, air conditioner on high, eating the box of triscuits, listening to the radio.

i was surprised that by noontime there were still a lot of parking spaces available. i think the weather discouraged a lot of people from coming. earlier, it was hot and humid but overcasted with a chance of thunderstorms. gradually during the day the weather started to clear up, becoming a perfect beach day. arriving at the beachfront of walden pond, amanda wanted to camp out someplace with more people, i wanted more privacy. in the end, antisociality won out. we laid out our beach towel on the rocky shore, amanda with her monogrammed towel, me in my heirloom "billy joel" piano man towel. i went into the pond first, the water temperature just right. amanda probably told me before but i forgot, but she was actually a swimmer back in high school. when amanda got into the water there was no slow wading in the shallow end, it was straight to the deep center of the pond (the pond at it's deepest is 103 ft, i thought maybe it was only 30 ft), which made me a little nervous, because if anything was to happen, the only thing i could do would be to scream helplessly from the shores since i can't swim and can't mount any rescue effort.

the second time i went into the water i put on my flippers, and for the very first time ever, i was actually staying afloat by treading water, even though it was fin-assisted. i think i'm borderline when it comes to learning how to swim. i can float on my back (if i don't panic), but i just can't stay afloat in any other position. i'm nervous when i get into the water, but i'm not paralyzed with fear. i still don't like dunking my head underwater because it feels weird. i'm missing some secret ingredient that will complete my swimming skill. but today, at least for the time i was in the water with my flippers, i felt like i could swim. amanda and i decided to swim across the pond and back. i floated on my back and propelled myself effortless with either kicks or undulating wiggles, amanda following besides me, pure swimmer, no gadgets. i was nervous, not for myself, but for her, because if somthing went wrong (i turn pessimistic when i'm in the water), i wouldn't be able to do anything. we finally made it to the other side, with me scraping my knee in the process. we sat in the water, half submerged, exhausted. i don't know about amanda, but i felt winded. so this is what swimming feels like. i wasn't in any pain (not like running, when you're constantly pounding your legs into the pavement), i was just tired. but on the water, with unknown depths beneath me, the threat of drowning, that was enough motivation for me to keep on going. swimming practice in a pond is dangerous business. a well life guarded pool is the safer alternative. but in a pool, you chlorine stink afterwards. in a pond, all i can smell is the fragrance of the sunblock and nothing more. but swimming is good exercise if you can find a place to do it. for me money, the poor man's exercise option of choice is still running even though it can take a toll on my body. maybe i can work in some biking into my regimen.

after some rest, we decided to swim back to the other side, since walking along the rocky shore was out of the question because we didn't have our shoes. if i can get over the anxiousness of floating in the water and not being able to touch the bottom, swimming is actually pretty peaceful. floating on my back, slowly kicking with my flippers, the back of my head submerged, looking up at the blue sky and white clouds, just the sound of the lapping water, it was peaceful at times. when we made it back, i stumbled out of the water, taking off my fins, and sitting on my dry towel, tired. (after consulting with a trail map, i'm estimating that it was 675 ft across, so roundtrip it was a 1350 ft swim.)

we left at 4pm to beat the traffic that would congest the highways an hour later. after dropping amanda off, i went home and took a shower (which is ironic, being in water all day, to go home and get some more). although i didn't stink, who knows what kind of microbes might be living in those water, i don't want to get walden pond disease! afterwards i rested in my room, felt totally relaxed and great, like those same feelings i get after a good run. it's surprising what a day at the beach (even though it was a pond beach) can do for your mental well being.

tim giordano (former screen house coworker, now gainfully unemployed like i am) called me up for 30 minutes from connecticut to talk digital cameras, one of my favorite topics. he wanted more information about the nikon coolpix 950, because he was thinking about buying one. i think i sold him on the virtues of the 950, but it's a very easy sell, the 950 is a very good camera, and in my mind, it's even better than some of the later (newer) models in its series. the nikon 4500 if you can afford it, it's a worthy successor, or go with the original flavor and buy 950.

it's become a nightly ritual: i like to go outside onto the front steps and see what kind of strange bugs the house light has attracted. usually it's an assortment of moths, but tonight i had a special guest star, a genuine cicada. it's a rarity to see these insects alive. you can usually hear them during the summertime, but they're hardly ever seen, at least not alive. this one was still kicking, although if i had to guess, i'd say it's on its final legs, since i've never known cicadas to be attracted to light before (so there must be something wrong). in the photo, notice the 3 ocelli which can be seen on its head. cicadas are the biggest bugs i've seen in the new england area.