The problem with keeping vows

Feet. Lake. Cold lake.

I’ll bet you thought I was going to talk about marriage vows or something like that. 

Not at all.  

The latest vow that is challenging me is this:  A week or two ago I realized that Lake Superior was warm.  That means WARM.  I swear the lake has never been warmer in recent years. 

You know how fast winter comes, don’t you? 

So I vowed:  I will swim in Lake Superior every day that it hits 80 degrees. 

Magical water. Cold magical water.

All fine and dandy when you say a vow.  Sometimes we’re thinking clearly; other times we’re not. 

I was roughly thinking:  how many days can it get over 80 degrees anyway? I’ll probably be swimming once or twice or maybe three times.  No problemo. 

Mama and baby in lake...

The first couple of times were a piece of cake.  The water was exquisitely warm. You could bounce up and down in the waves.  You could go under and not freeze.  You could stay out there and luxuriate.  You could float on your back.  You could praise the warm lake and the warm summer and the intelligence of saying vows. 

Until last night.  That’s when something inside started rebelling, “I have to go over there AGAIN?  I don’t want to.  Too busy.  No.  Do…not…want…to…go.” 

But, of course, you’ve said a vow. 

So off you go to the lake.  And the water is warm and exquisite and all is well in the Universe. 


Until tonight.  The inner voice started whining, “BUT I don’t WANT to–” but I cut it off and put on the bathing suit.  Grabbed the towel, the camera and a pair of sandals.  Drove over to Second Sand Beach, sighing.  Wondering how many more days it’s going to be over 80 degrees. 

Got to the lake.  Ventured in. 


Ohmygoodness!  Not a single other bather was in the water.  A few lone beach-goers wandered or sat along the shore.  A young teenage boy stood in wet to his shins. 

Fortunately, a mother and baby disembarked from their car at the same time as I did.  And in the water scampered the mom and baby.  If THEY could swim, so could I.  (And I had to, anyway, because of the vow…) 

Hi doggy! You don't worry about keeping vows, do you?

Out I went.  Cold, cold, cold.  Must have been the direction the wind was blowing.  All the cold water from the middle of the lake must have decided to grace the eastern shore of Keweenaw Bay. 

Got out to maybe five feet in depth…held the breath…dove in!  (Not going all the way under.  The vow didn’t say anything about going under.  Splashed around; swam with gusto for maybe three minutes.  Turned around toward shore and headed in.) 

Exhilarated!  Another successful day with the vow.  And, darn it, didn’t I feel better?  Tingling and grinning.  YES!! 

Just wanted to tell you all:  the vow ends after August 31st.  Don’t care how many days it hits 80 degrees in September…it will not be mandatory to swim. 

Hey what do you think about that doggy?  Isn’t he cute?  

…The cutie went up to my towel and shorts and shook all over them!  How come dogs always know where to shake? 

P.S.  Have you gone swimming this summer?  Taken any vows that you’ve kept or haven’t kept?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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25 Responses to The problem with keeping vows

  1. Kathy – You are a MUCH braver soul than I. I love the photo of your feet and the one of the dog. Those two are my favorites. I’m surprised you were able to hold the camera still with teeth chattering in that cold water. But GOOD for you. Only a few more days to go — whoohoo!

    Yes, we’ve gone swimming this summer, but at an indoor pool.

    I took a vow to not drink any alcohol this year while teaching Reiki. I wanted to see if there was a tangible flow in energy. I’ve kept that vow. The last Reiki class I teach is in November. I plan to ring in the New Year (Dec 31st) with a glass of champagne.

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, I wanted to bring the camera out in deeper water but didn’t dare for fear of dunking it or splashing it into oblivion. The weather forecast–just checked–said 80’s for the next three days. LOL!

      What a wonderful vow to have kept–to not drink alcohol for a year. I do admire people who make vows and marshal the energy to keep them. Sometimes I am a really great vow-keeper…and sometimes have failed miserably with some personal vows. Still working on those!

      Perhaps I will raise a glass of champagne to you on Dec. 31st!

  2. Tammy McLeod says:

    Great photos Kathy. I love that you’ve made a vow – I’ve hardly swam this summer and it is still warm here.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Tammy. I like it when I can make a vow and keep it. (Not always possible.) What about jumping in the lake this afternoon? I’ve talked Barry into joining me at the beach today. We’ll bring over something to drink and sit on lawn chairs briefly before the dunk. Should be nice.

  3. Sounds like a great vow!
    Looks really fun to just decide to go swim!

    Now is a very busy time, as I am covering for my own job and a lab manager who resigned, and Joe is golfing every day after school>

    I will be in St Louis next week. I always bring my swimsuit but never go!
    I have to be honest, I have not been swimming this year. Maybe a whirlpool or two….

    Perhaps I feel a new vow coming on!

    • Kathy says:

      Kim, I know you have a good vow going keeping off of coffee for a few months. Sounds like you are in a busy place with your job. (By the way, I would almost–almost–count the whirlpool as swimming!)

  4. Kathy, I’ve been swimming more this year than in many years all together in Maine. Warmly cool Hobbs Pond in my town for a brisk cool off exercise, or Lincolnville Beach or Drift Inn Beach for the COLD ocean. i love the cold water. I wonder how many days in September I will swim! Love your water pictures.

    • Kathy says:

      Carla, oh are your words inspiring and tempting! You LOVE cold water! You are my swimming guru. Maybe, just maybe, I will swim in September, too. Just because you have said this.

  5. Dawn says:

    I remember swimming in the Houghton Canal…and once it was suddenly and unexpectedly freezing! Someone said that it had “turned over” and the cold water at the bottom was now at the top?! Who knows. I bet your was the wind, blowing cold water into shore. I loved the two photos that looked like peacock feathers..the water over the stony bottom.

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, I think you have described the phenomonen perfectly. Barry said something similar. The water “turns” and the cold water is now on the surface and the warm water is–I dunno–just GONE. I liked the effect of those water photos, too. They made it seem more magical and less cold, lol.

  6. Karma says:

    It sounds like you could have actually gotten away with not swimming and not broken the vow – I’m thinking maybe the water wasn’t 80 degrees at that moment! Gee my pool isn’t even that warm – I stuck a thermometer in it yesterday and it was only 68! Brrr! The ocean water in Maine had a surface temp of 63 according to the weather channel; I only got in up to my knees when we were there.
    Love the dog shot! Very cute. They always know exactly the best place for shaking – usually next to a dry, human family member.

    • Kathy says:

      Karen, since our water has NEVER been 80 degrees…I swear Lake Superior has never been 80 degrees…let me go google. It just said it hit its HIGHEST average surface record ever. 68.3 degrees! Last summer it felt like someone filled the lake with ice cubes. This is an amazing happening.

  7. Susan D. says:

    Am thinking about vows and honoring them – following through. If we kept our vows, even when we don’t feel like it, bet the world would be an even better place….

    Love the feet, and the bow-wow!

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, I agree, Susan. I ponder a lot–what makes us keep our vows and what makes us throw them in the lake? What is the emotional charge that is stronger than a vow, and why? The owner of that dog said he worked in the Michigna Attorney General’s office for years. Fascinating Beach Facts that we can learn…

  8. Robin says:

    I was just saying the other day that I have not been swimming in our pond this summer. Not even once. I’m not sure I even got my feet wet. I should remedy that. I’m not making any vows about it, though, as I have something else in mind where vows are concerned and figure it is probably not a good idea to have too many vows going at once.

    Keeping vows, especially when we don’t want to, does bring about a good feeling (similar to the cold water, I think — tingling and exhilarating). 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, you are so right. I have something different for a vow in mind, as well, although probably won’t be blogging about it. So, when this swimming vow ends…that’s it for these kind of vows. I wish you good luck in keeping your vow. I wish you feelings of joy from the effects of it. Blessings!

  9. Kathy says:

    Never you all mind! Read/watch THIS and hear about some REAL cold water and some inspirational challenge:

  10. Carol says:

    My vows usually center on something like exercising in one form or another, and rarely do I keep them longer than a couple of days. I’ve now vowed not to vow, and that I can do very well!

    Congrats to you on keeping your vow!

    • Kathy says:

      Smiling, Carol. Vowing not to keep making vows definitely counts! I have today and tomorrow yet to keep this latest vow. It’s above 80 degrees already!! Barry and I are packing a sandwich tonight. And he’s bringing home some lemonade. Mmmm! (And maybe he’ll even go swimming, too.)

  11. bearyweather says:

    I think this is the first summer I did not go swimming. June too cold and then the weeds showed up. Our lakes, for some reason, are extremely weedy this year … that brings an itch and slimy stuff. There is one lake about 1/2 mile away that never has weeds … and it was very busy and crowded .. too crowded for me.

    • Kathy says:

      bearyweather, those inland weedy lakes would be really challenging. Oh yes. And then there are things like leeches. (I really don’t blame you.)

  12. Cindy Lou says:

    Awww, Kathy….you’ve put me to shame on our vows. I only went in one day, but I have been in my backyard pool?!? Does that count? 🙂

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