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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Warmer activities in warmer places

A cold front has arrived, a light rain pushed by cold wind coming out of the north, what we call a “Northern” in Houston and I am walking my dogs. I cohabitate with two Australian Shepherds and one chow chow, all long haired dogs that find this weather very pleasant. By walking into the wind my return will be with the wind at my back, an old habit of an old sailor.

The cold makes me wish for, and remember, warmer activities in warmer places.

I remember a summer scuba dive on Sombrero reef near Marathon in the Florida Keys. I had perfect buoyancy control on that dive, drifting upside down in one of the natural channels of the reef. Trying to appear as natural to the environment as a scuba diver can, with a dark blue wet suit, air tanks, BC, octopus and everything else a scuba diver carries appearing natural isn’t easy. But try I do, the reward is the indigenous inhabitants don’t hide or scoot into the distance. It feels like I am swimming it a very large aquarium. I am very comfortable here, I belong here.

I remember a wall dive near Roatan, an island just off Honduras in Central America. Water so clear that the underwater visibility is measured in hundreds of feet. The dive boat anchors in five meters of water, about thirty meters from the drop-off that marks the edge of the wall. I exit over the side of the boat, signal OK, slowly release air from the BC and sink under the surface. My dive partner and I follow the dive master to the start of a valley that cuts into the drop-off. The valley cuts deeper and deeper, I glide down the decline like a bird comfortable in its three dimensional flight. Exiting the valley at a depth of 90 feet, we level out our flight then turn to see the wall. The wall extends left and right as far as I can see; looking down the wall descends into darkness so deep only the imagination can feel it.  I am a bird slowly flying next to a sky scraper, an enormous sky scrapper populated by millions of aquatic residents. I know this is a memory I will hold the rest of my life.

The wet cold of here and now bites me, concentrating my awareness. I think of the coming summer, no concrete travel plans yet. Ireland is on the top of the maybe list, with Akumal Mexico almost a sure bet. The dogs tell me they are hungry

I put the wind to my back, we head for the house.

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