On warm Yucatán nights, when the water temperature feels neither hot nor cold, after a few moments I cease to notice any separation between my skin and the liquid that cradles me. I float effortlessly and lose sense of the water. I bend my knees. Sometimes, arms extended, I bend my elbows and entwine the fingers of both hands across the back of my head. My respiration falls into a rhythm at which, although the buoyancy of my body drops and rises slightly as I breathe in and out, my face never dips below the surface.
Having reached this equilibrium, I drowsily observe the scene; moon, stars, clouds. These objects all have their own motions, but I add to the dynamic once in awhile by moving hands or feet, which sets the upward view slowly whirling and shifting.
Sometimes during this quiet repose I witness a lot of action. High winds aloft set clouds scurrying across the sky. The overhanging branches and fronds of the garden fidget in response to the breeze. Or bolts of lightning from a distant storm create a strobe-light show as they reflect off the thick atmosphere. I always hope to see falling stars. I see satellites.
But this isn't all.
Here in Mérida, owls come out at night. Often they announce themselves with a loud screech. Then a white silhouette glides against the black sky like a paper cutout suspended on a wire in a grade-school play. The bird of prey is patiently searching for its supper, maybe a careless opossum, rat or other small animal.
There are other flying night visitors that actually interest me more than the owls. These are the bats.
Certain bat species eerily pollinate the banana and pitahaya flowers when they are in bloom. It seems strange because although with their broad, quickly-beating wings they appear to be sizable, active creatures, they make no appreciable noise as they flutter around and back again to visit different blooms.
The bats drink in mid-flight by swooping low enough to skim the water's surface with their mouths as they quickly pass by. For me, floating as I do, this is interesting to witness, especially when a bat takes this flying sip only a foot or two away from my face. Bats make a slight, wet, swooshing sound as they touch the surface, and leave a tiny wake. I have felt the breeze of their wingbeats on my cheek.
When not engaged in observing the nighttime environment around me as I float, I simply relax and let my thoughts drift along with by body. Sometimes I make decisions, solve problems or come up with ideas for blog posts. Other times I lock my gaze on the stars and attempt to quiet my mind and have no thoughts at all.
I suppose there are people who think it all a little odd, or maybe something to try once, but for me frequent sojourns in the pool at night are another of the little pleasures that make life here fascinating.
The idea for this post germinated after I read and commented on a post by my friend Lynette, The Big Ass Belle.