July 28, 2005

A Foggy Day In Dover Town

I was a stranger in the city
Out of town were the people I knew
I had that feeling of self-pity-
What to do, what to do, what to do?
The outlook was decidedly blue..."

-- Ira Gershwin, lyrics to "A Foggy Day"

The weather in England has been terrible for the last week- or rather, I should say, typical. It's been dreary, overcast, rainy, cold and windy. In late July. Training in these conditions has not been easy. I've had to reschedule or curtail training several times as the weather worsened. Combined with my hand, it's not been a good week.

Today all of us were huddled under one of the shelters by the beach, chatting and looking around nervously, waiting for the weather to improve. The rain finally eased up and we all got in the water. Also in the water was a flotilla of kayakers and small sailboats, and I grinned at some of them as I swam by and they moved out of my way.

About two hours into my swim, the fog suddenly returned. As I paused below one pier and looked across the harbour, the fog was lightly embracing the buildings and slightly obscuring the far pier. I started swimming, and about fifteen minutes later I was at the other pier. I stopped, noticed the water was strangely calm here, and turned around, into a ghostly, almost surreal vision.

The fog had come down so hard it obscured everything that was more than about 100m away. I could not see the sailboats or kayakers in the middle of the harbour, nor could I see the buildings on the shore. My entire world consisted of three colours: a green, flat, glassy sea, a broad swath of grim brown beach, and thick, dark, grey fog. The air was eeriely still, and as I treaded water all I could hear was my own raspy breathing.

The mist swirled around me as I took everything in. I could have been the only person in the world. Perhaps I was. Darkness all around, ahead, below and above. A solid wall of metal behind me. There was only one way to go: forward.

I put my head down, and started swimming.

When you are at the end of all the light you have, and take a step into the darkness of the unknown, one of two things will happen: your foot will land on solid ground... or you will learn how to fly.

Posted by pj at July 28, 2005 02:20 AM