The Well

Here I am, still meandering through my recovery, exploring new places, meeting new people, trying not to get lost on the winding roads in this neighborhood, and cranking the heat up so I don’t freeze in the car. It’s almost hard to believe that one week ago, I was wearing sandals, doing the breaststroke and jumping jacks in an outdoor pool – under a sky-filled canopy of sunshine.

Rain or shine (or chilly temperatures), the recovery regime continues…

So at midday yesterday, I headed to yet another indoor community pool (perhaps I can set a new World Record for most pools visited in one year, in as many different locales as possible), where I found myself, once again, significantly lowering the average age of swimmers.

As I waddled into the ‘natatorium’ (fancy term for pool area), for a quick tour with Jennifer-from-the-front-desk, I was still fully clothed in winter coat, hat, gloves, boots – and cane to boot. I must have been quite a sight. Hard to tell: were they staring at the stick or my 1960s woolen hat and sub-zero weather boots? Maybe it was just that I was the newest kid on the block.

Earlier in the day, when I had phoned to inquire about the facilities, Jennifer kept inserting the word ‘well’ into our conversation. I had no idea what she was talking about, and, thinking it a local slang term, I let it pass without question.

But once we had reached the edge of the large (and shallow) pool, and once her explanations about activities there were done, I pointed to the far end of the hall – where another, smaller pool was situated, and asked: “What’s over there?” “That,” she said, “is the well.”

When I think of the word well these days, I think of wellness and of feeling well. Well-nourished. Well-rested. I think of the New York Times’ healthy-living blog penned by Tara Parker-Pope, and called Well; where I regularly find a wealth (and well!) of knowledge about healthy eating and exercise habits.  

But I rarely think of it as a source of nature – which it is, of course; a hole dug deep into the ground in order to reach an underground aquifer. I found it both a curious and compelling use of the word at this venue; curious, because I doubt the water is pumped into the pool from the ground below this building ; and compelling, because a well has the visual and spiritual depth that a pool does not; the former conjures up images of an ever-flowing source of pristine water, full of healing and other beneficial properties, while a pool strikes me as a more static, chlorine-filled receptacle. (Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the value of both!)

After I change into swimming gear and after a round of exercises in the shallow pool, I hobble slowly over to the well. I stand for a few moments at the edge, marveling that it is indeed filled with an abundance of blue to such a depth that it is impossible for me to see the bottom.

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