"C'est dificile exprimer..."

I love the river that flows through our town, and I have been trying to wait patiently for today. Today was the 49th annual Traversee de la Meuse- a day when people actually swim across the river's frigid waters. Last night a group of us went to O'Malley's and discussed the pros and cons of actually partaking in such an event. We broke for the night planning to meet eachother on the banks the following morning, towels in hand.

We greeted eachother alongside the Meuse this morning, all smiling quite sheepishly. We had chickened out. Every last one of us.

Clay had to run sound at church, Kevin was "never really into it anyways" (we found out later he had his bathing suit on under his clothes), and Matt now thought it was a lame idea (providing even lamer excuses such as: "If this was in Italy, I would so totally do it...").

I myself woke up this morning, and my head cold had progressed to the point that it just didn't seem wise to embrace the cold, the exertion, or the murky river-filth that swimming across a river in Belgian February involves. I know. Just as big a cop-out as the rest of them.

So, the big-talkers enjoyed being bundled-up spectators for the big event.

The swimmers were warming up long before they dove in. Lots of stretching and jazz-hands.

Jumping-jacks in wooden shoes. I love this place.

I think my favorite part was watching those on the other side of the barriers all bundled up in their coats, sipping coffee, wondering why anyone in their ever-loving right minds would be diving into that freezing river on a quiet Sunday morning. And certainly why they themselves had to get out of bed to watch it.

A chartered bus took the group of swimmers to the other side. Such suspense. I think I may have been jumping up and down at this point.

To the rails, gentlemen!

There were dives, canon balls, a few pencils, and a couple of flat-out duds, but, heat by heat, the swimmers swam the mighty Meuse!

Here is Matt doing the classic uninterested-but-really-very-interested lurking to decide if he really did want to take the plunge afterall.

He didn't. (Weenie.)

Which worked out well, because we found out that you actually had to have signed up with some swim club and get a physical before swimming. In fact, we talked to a veteran of the event who filled us in on the details. Today was this man's 46th year to make the passage at the age of 72. He said that even after 45 years, every Meuse crossing makes him nervous. In his words, "The cold, the current... it's difficult to explain." Precious, sweet, river-swimming man. I wanted to kiss his cheek and tell him that I think he's wonderful, but out of respect for his pre-game focus we left him in peace as he awaited his heat.

We weren't the only spectators.

Our little town shined today. The wind even showed up, creating quite the river current, and took out the stop light on main street in the process.

It's a wild windy, rainy day here in Huy. Certainly a day to remember.


Jana said...

hahaha! "pencils" :)

Jocelyn said...

wow- how much fun (and ummmm... kinda crazy). isn't it fun to watch something of tradition that seems so out and out insane... all for the sake of tradition. i can't even believe you CONSIDERED doing it- much braver than me to even have the fleeting thought.