L’odeur de l’eau de lac…. the Scent of the Lake

I spent what turned out to be an impulsive weekend with my long-time friend Lydia, thanks to the raging winds in the Rockies and my previous visit to Kenya. I had been fortunate to check off a flurry of “bucket list” items right before I left for Kenya, leaving a new number one!

Nederland, Colorado hosts something called “Frozen Dead Guy Days” each year to raise money in the interest of one cryogenically preserved dude named “Bredo.” For the moderately intrigued, you can check out the website quickly at Frozen Dead Guy Daze. The fickle Colorado weather sent raging and destructive winds down the eastern slopes on Saturday’s event day, so the Dead Guy festival folks had to reschedule a number of events involving the outdoors.

The various outdoor festival activities include a hearse parade, ice turkey bowling, coffin races replete with thematic costumes, and of course the Polar Plunge. It was the Polar Plunge that interested us. Yes, that frozen lake and ocean jumping that brings crazy folks out in bathing suits to the water’s edge in the dead of winter.

Lydia has wanted to freeze her proverbial “arse” off for some time but being a single mother and businesswoman, kept missing any local events for one reason or another. So, in a coversation a few days ago, she mentioned this in relation to Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland and to our surprise, the moment presented itself. Carpe Diem and we did. My friend Marla, a now seasoned plunger, and I played “arse freezing” support and videographers. I captured a few photos from the video footage before the battery died, and posted them on Facebook. It is in response to these photos, and one in particular that just felt “right” for a Facebook profile picture, that Lydia writes:

“I love it that you knew that… interesting! . . . When I showered last night, two things occurred to me…There was a lot more dirt on me than I expected and I was sad to smell the lake go…”

Lyd da Best

Those words, “I was sad to smell the lake go…” brought about a visceral response, not because I chose NOT to jump, and not because we all froze in those icy winds anyway, though not as fully as Lyd did. It occurred to me that our “bucket list” items linger in the senses beyond the moments of fulfillment. Those sensory moments are… well, simply everything.

The video will be released at some point. In the meantime, you will have to imagine the crisp, clean scent of the alpine lake, the frozen mineral smell of the mud, momentarily thawed for a plunge in honor of a dead guy whose remains are preserved by the same freeze. The sensorial memory is stamped in my brain and will travel with me wherever I go, including warm Africa.

And Lydia, for the written record, two things also occurred to me as I read your note this morning: First, there is great fulfillment in helping people achieve their “moments”; and second, I wonder if you realize that I too got to check off my number one bucket list item?!

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