Last Swim at Bald Eagle State Park

"It happened one summer, it happened one time
It happened forever, for a short time
A place for a moment, an end to dream
Forever I loved you, forever it seemed"

Swimming season comes to a crashing halt after this weekend. The swimming areas at all of our local state parks, where we have had such fun, will close first thing Monday morning. In truth, the weather is often warm enough for swimming well into October, if you don't mind chilly water. It's a shame to see them close.

Rain was expected for some parts of the weekend, but my husband and I had been talking about trying to do a fast, lightning-strike swim on Saturday, around traffic from a home Penn State football game. I suggested we also try to fit in a quick swimming trip Friday evening after work, just in case our Saturday plans didn't pan out.

So I finished up work Friday (one of the last few Fridays I will work, ever!), and went home and picked up my husband. We drove through Bellefonte and tossed a pair of Jim's Italian hoagies in our cooler for after the swim. Then we headed for Bald Eagle State Park.

It had been dark and cloudy and overcast all day, but I saw a few peeks of blue sky when I left work. Just as we arrived at the park, the clouds began to break, and the sun began to appear. What a perfect time for a swim!

You may remember this view from earlier in the summer, and indeed it was an almost identical version of this shot that I snapped one summer morning, as hymns rolled across these waters; one of the local churches was holding a service in a nearby pavilion. The service concluded with full immersion baptism, and it was a very neat thing to watch. To think, people's souls were washed clean by these waters; maybe mine, too.

As the clouds broke on this day, and the light shone through, I was standing by the water with my camera. My husband was already in the water swimming. A large, angular bird flew overhead and it unfolded itself as it landed and revealed itself to be a heron. I snapped a photo of the bird walking along the shore, gazing wistfully into the last of the good light (see extra photos).

Then I put my camera down and got in for a swim myself. The water was fine, but a bit choppy, as there was a breeze. The water temperature was comfortable, and once I was in, it felt warmer in the water than out in the air.

As I swam, I heard and saw another big bird arrive: an osprey this time. While we swam, I heard it hitting the water again and again, fishing for its supper. I imagined I saw a fish in its talons as it flew away but I can't be sure.

Done swimming, I got out of the water and quickly wrapped a towel around myself, as it felt quite chilly upon getting out. I dried myself and then put a light fleece jacket on and strolled around taking a few more photos, as my husband finished up his swim.

We enjoyed our hoagie at a picnic table nearby after we both dried off and changed our clothes. After eating, I walked over to the boat docking area, snapping a few last photos as the sun turned orange and dropped behind the rolling hills.

I was feeling even more wistful than the heron looked, but I was grateful too. The light is fading. Day is nearly done. This is our last swim at this place. What fun we have had. Thank you for the heron; the osprey too. And thank you for the beautiful sky full of drama and light. This is the end of the dream that is summer. Until next time . . .

The soundtrack: The Motels, Suddenly Last Summer. (The lyrics above are also from this song.)

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