Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Slow Swimming

Once upon a time, when I were yung, during the summer of 1987, I walked past that sign twice a day. Once in the morning, on my way to work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and once on the way back home.
I loved my daily walk along the lake, occasionally doing the geeky thing: thinking about the math problem I was working on. But usually I spent my time reveling in my surroundings.
Walking along the boardwalk, I enjoyed the scenery, gazing off at the water, mesmerized by the reflection of the sunlight on the ever moving ripples. I admired the skill of the students sailing and envied those preparing to set off kayaking.
I wondered at the homeless lady scuttling off with a duck tucked under her arm. Had she fed the duck pieces of plain bread to tempt it to waddle within reach? Or had she used pieces of seasoned bread-stuffing?
And whenever I passed the slow swimming beach, I paused to catch a glimpse of the swimmers. Were they swimming slowly? Who policed them? What would happen if they were caught swimming too quickly?
I wondered at the sign. Why was it there? Was there danger for fast swimmers? I knew that every year, a couple of swimmers got tangled in the weeds and drowned. Perhaps swimming slowly was a strategy to prevent getting tangled in the weeds. Though one would think you’d want to swim as fast as possible to stay out of reach of the tendrils out to snag a foot and curl around it.

Years later, when I came across a sign that said




I wondered at those slow driveways. Why would they hide, lurking around the bend? Were the planning on pouncing on passing cars? But surely, if they were slow they’d be unsuccessful. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the fast driveways?

A few days ago, Kristen Lamb of #WANNA (We Are Not Alone), a Facebook friend, wrote in a post:

“At the conference, a fellow writer told me about staying in a foreign-owned hotel and in the bathroom, there was a sign:


As a writer, I want to KNOW. What the heck is with the soap dish? Is it possessed? Does it steal SOULS? Why do we need to be warned? Granted, could be poor English skills, OR it could be an omen. This soap dish could be sentient and looking for a human host!”

Reading her post, I realized that though I hadn’t done any writing before the brain surgeries, I was clearly destined to become one, even way back when, when I were yung.