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Swimming in Frenchman Bay

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The author is a homemaker and retired medical transcriptionist. She holds a Masters degree in English and loves to write.

Author's photo

Author's photo

Every time I visit the cottage, the first thing I notice when I get out of the car is the strong smell of the ocean. The perfume is intoxicating to me. The odor is especially pungent at low tide, which is the best! I'm not sure how to describe how it makes me feel. I guess I feel satisfied and integrated in a raw and earthy sort of way. The smell also tells me I'll be getting into the water soon! Swimming is always the high point of my stay.

The process of getting into the ocean is obviously difficult due to the cold. I am definitely not a plunger. I use the slow method, which includes a lot of standing around. My feet push me deeper into the water, inch by inch, until my legs are completely submerged. Then, ever so slowly, the water creeps up over my body to where the vital organs are. The core, where my heart is, is extra challenging. Now the water is at my armpits. The shoulders, still exposed, are the last to go. All of the small waves that hit my body help me to get wetter and deeper into the water, since I have no choice but to bear the chilly splashes. Huzzah!

Author's photo

Author's photo

I love the jagged rocks on the sea floor for their own sake. They crowd together and pile on top of one another, leaving no space between. While in the water, my water shoes slip on the uneven bottom, but I'm glad to know the rocks are there. I'm reassured when my toes can touch the rocks, because I usually swim alone. When I swim out over my head, I know that touchdown is never very far away. The translucent, yet tough, seaweed rubs and tickles my legs in a scratchy sort of way. Flotsam from a recent storm drifts by. I don’t mind.

After a while I head all of the way back into shore to get my rubber tire and I flip it over my head and relax back. Now I just wait for the boats in the bay to motor by so I can get a little ride in the wake. I love to float, I love to move in the water, I love to tread water, I love to swim. Even though it takes me a long time to get into the water, once there, I may stay for an hour or more. That’s what my fat layer does for me.

I have had three wildlife encounters while swimming: one with a harbor seal; one with a large crab; and one with a bald eagle.

The seal terrified the living daylights out of me. Seals are wild animals after all, you know. When he popped his head up, about 30 feet away in the distance, I soon realized how vulnerable I was and how terribly slow swimming as a means of escape is. Needless to say, I made it frantically to shore. Despite the fact that I was quite certain the seal was uninterested in me and would not have hurt me, I saw him as unpredictable.

At another time I was pursued by a large crab. I think the crab viewed me as an intruder—to the extent that a crab would have a view. Nipping at my ankles, I could not shake off the tail. Ouch!

Bald Eagle and Swimming at the Ovens

The Ovens--author's photo

The Ovens--author's photo

Finally, one day after I had free-styled it down to the Ovens, a huge bald eagle launched from his tree-top position on the cliff, swooped low over my head, and snatched a fish out of the water with his talons. That was a fantastic experience!

Free stock image

Free stock image

(For years the bald eagles had a nest in a pine tree within view of our cottage, down by the Ovens, but the nest seems to be gone this year. However, we do frequently see a juvenile bald eagle flying by the cottage. He is usually being chased my a gang of crows. Once we saw him resting on a rock down on the shore. The crows were pestering him there, as well. The juvenile eagle's feathers are still brown, but his head is definitely turning white. His wing span is enormous. One day while I was outside he swooped by me, and I could actually hear the loud "whoosh" of his flapping wings. He was huge!)

I ended up spending all my time talking about swimming, and not about all of the other million things I love about our cottage in Maine. I guess, at least for today, home is where the ocean is.

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