Of heat waves and night swimming

Oh good lord is it hot. Really hot. Butt sticking to pleather booths hot. Wet, salty hair and sweat in your eyes hot. Oh climate change, how you have ravaged even the once-temperate summers of Santa Barbara. But this is, I suppose, just as it should be as the California summer draws to its close.

I have been seeking out, in this heat wave, all the pleasures of the season. This means an inordinate amount of frozen yogurt and rosé wine, long aimless walks, hours reading on the beach. But it also means night swimming.

Night swimming is always glorious.* It’s cold and vaguely but pleasurably terrifying. It’s magical and romantic. It is all things summer.

In my experience, night swimming is best accompanied by a bottle of wine and a beach bonfire. You need the wine to help bring forth in you the bravery required to jump into the black, frigid waters of the Pacific and the bonfire to warm up when you come back out.

As happy circumstance would have it, various social trajectories recently put me on the beach, next to a bonfire, with a bottle of wine and a couple of willing night swimming collaborators. In we ran, shivering in the water, but joyous.

I used the ocean as my easy chair, feet towards the horizon with a big moon above.

I do a lot of complaining about the bizarre social world that is Santa Barbara. But every once and a while geography wins over culture, and you find yourself happy, toes almost touching the moon, in a very American summer.  So, oh readers of mine, I hope it’s still hot, or about to get there, wherever you are. If you get a chance: dive in!


Unless, I suppose, you’re in some French suspense film sort of scenario where you jump into the water to escape the quickening pursuit of your nameless, faceless (and possibly imaginary) enemies.