Monday, June 30, 2008

Swamp Thing

Wading into Blackwater Lake the water feels cool at first, in the shallows. But when I'm chest deep and deeper, and a tangled network of duckweed hides just below the surface, it's warmer. There is so much life in the lake -- squirming and flitting fishes, aquatic insects, underwater blooms of microbes -- that the water seems faintly carbonated, fizzing and bubbling. Diving down I drop through a three-foot layer of misty jade, where the canoe above blurs out, a smudge of color. Then down two more feet and suddenly all light is shut out by a layer of suspended muck, opaque and blinding as squid-ink. My dive light, mounted on my wrist, doesn't even begin to cut through the murk. Groping below blindly I thrust my arm into the lake floor, a silty goop at least three feet deep. Up to my shoulder, I feel no solid lake floor. Finally I draw up my arm and push upwards through the blackness into the green and then the green is washed out by a generic white light of the sky above and then I push up through silver, breaking the surface, my body draped with vegetation. I hang onto the side of the canoe and breathe again. I tell Todd and Chuck what I've seen. The lake surface is bubbly and humped with a few weed-heads close by, but further off it's level and reflects the sky like a mirror.

You can read Todd's reports about the project here.

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