Jumping into the pool at the Y after work, the water feels just a little warm, as comforting as a cup of cocoa that’s cooled off enough to sip.
We run up and down the length of the pool, warming up while we wait for water exercise class to start. Joining the group of a dozen swimmers pushing through the weight of the water always reminds me of wading through a crowd at a really good sale.
The instructor shows up and stands above us on the edge of the pool. Pick up that pace! Run fast, double-time! Stir up that water!
In the pool, we take our cue. And start talking about what we’ve cooked lately. The big batch of soup over the weekend while it was snowing. Seriously, you made soup from beef bones? Oh man, I’d never try to cook something like that. Really? But why not? It’s so simple, and it’s like getting something from nothing.
On the edge of the pool, the instructor sends us walking sideways, feet out and knees bent like crabs.
In the pool, we talk about who’s planning a beach trip and the best way to steam shrimp. Beer or water with crab boil? How about both? The best way to make leftover crab into salad: Mix a little Dijon mustard into the mayonnaise. Serve it on lettuce or just with crackers? Just crackers – why get fancy?
The instructor tosses paddle boards into the pool and tells us to plant our feet on the bottom and pull the boards under water, like oars. Side to side, in and out.
Now, hold the boards flat and lift them like platters! Platters of fruits and vegetables, not Valentine’s candy or those Easter cakes you’re starting to see!
Or baklava, one woman shouts back. That’s what I like at Easter, baklava. You know the place to get the best baklava, right? That Syrian bakery on Sharon Amity. Really? Where on Sharon Amity? Oh, next to the halal market – yeah, I know that place. They make their own phyllo? Are you serious?
We release our paddle boards and let them float for a minute while we run in place, double time. We’re moving too fast to talk for a while.
Time to think: Is there enough of that soup left for dinner? Or should I settle for microwaving a bowl of frozen oatmeal? I could throw in some blueberries. That’s healthy. Maybe a little maple syrup, too. Or…
Noodles! The instructor yells for us to come and grab long pool noodles. We straddle them and ride them like the banana bikes some of us had as kids, trying to spin our legs fast enough to get a little forward momentum, occasionally cheating and pushing off with a toe instead.
The woman next to me asks if I have a favorite place for Italian food. The woman on the other side talks about going to an Italian place for Restaurant Week. Someone else who works uptown says she knows that place – it has a great lunch special, three courses for less than 10 bucks.
We toss the noodles out of the pool like javelins and get ready to stretch. Hard to believe an hour goes by so fast.
Quad stretch, runner’s stretch, hamstring.
Lining up to climb out, one woman shakes off the water and says she can’t believe how hungry she always is after class.
Can’t imagine why.