A dark night of satisfying revenge!
Dear Friends - In Antarctica, many wintering Australian expeditioners celebrate midwinter with a subzero swim in a hole cut in the sea ice, followed by a special feast celebrating the slow coming out of a twilight zone without any sun and moving towards summer and increasing daylight. The ‘swimming pool’ temperature at around -2 degrees Celsius is considerably warmer than the ambient air temperature which can be as low as -30 degrees.
Klady has always been fascinated by this mid-winter ritual (is it her northern European background?) – in fact she once applied for a job in Antarctica but didn’t have the right qualifications to be the expedition butcher (unfortunately at that time there was no call for an archaeologist / lawyer / journalist).
Tasmania – also home to the Australian Antarctic Division - now has its own midwinter dip which was introduced by the Dark Mofo Festival in 2012. This happening sees thousands of humans of all shapes and sizes, don red swim caps and strip off for the annual naked Winter Solstice swim in the Derwent River. Covid19 ensured that this event was cancelled in 2020.
It made me think about how could we, at World’s End, celebrate the start of longer days – or the shorter nights?
Klady came up with the idea of a dip at our beach on Sunday 21 June 2020 at 7:43 am. And I immediately took on-board the opportunity to start training Klady and myself (of course) for this inaugural event.
My program was very simple; each time she threw the ball into the water, I would swim out to fetch it, turn around full circle and swim ever further out. Then I would drop the ball, swim back to shore and furiously bark. The result was that Klady started to acclimatise to getting very wet in freezing winter water conditions but I have to say that her language was ALWAYS less than polite (do you think she was ungrateful for my efforts?).
Needless to say, Klady couldn’t recruit any fellow human swimmers to join us and so it was up to just to us two – one dog, one woman.
In the lead up to this event, further research revealed the necessary items that a human would need: swimmers or bathers, a thick dressing gown, a beanie or swim cap, snuggly slippers and a massive towel. Also, all the delicious morsels for our celebratory warming breakfast needed to be ready for quick heating following the swim (our version of the midwinter feast).
7:20 am Sunday 21 June 2020
The alarm woke Klady. I could see that she didn’t want to get up, so I jumped on her and poked my cold nose onto her face. That got her out of bed. On went her swimmers, slippers, dressing gown and beanie and off we set.
Of course the beach was desolated, the air temperature was around -3 degrees but I knew the water would feel warmer than that.
The adventure had started so I ran straight for the water encouraging Klady to follow me.
Let’s just get it done – I’m looking forward to my brisket bone!
I must admit I was super brave and with just my head sticking out of the gentle waves (and because Klady sometimes has trouble with the cold), I turned around to check whether she was alright.
Klady certainly was. She had put her dressing gown, slippers and beanie back on, grabbed the towel and was running home without even getting a toe wet!
I raced home and followed her upstairs where she promptly jumped (fully clothed) straight back into bed under stacks of blankets. Still dripping wet from my sub-zero experience, I swiftly retaliated digging a tunnel under the blankets. And then I gave her an enormous super wet and dripping doggie cuddle.
Did she appreciate this? No. Once again, Klady’s language was less than polite.
But for me this was a very satisfying revenge for being tricked into a freezing dawn mid-winter swim.
My less than polite barks can be translated as never bloody again!