SEVEN FEET UNDER
HOOD CANAL, Washington "Welcome to cold-water diving," one of my companions says. "We call it combat diving. It's not for the weak."
True, true. Scuba here is a sport for Wild Things.
The scene is straight from Maurice Sendak's beloved book. I slip into a grey fleece one-piece like Max's pajamas then the dry suit, booties, gloves, hood and tubes, tubes, tubes that morph me into a cheerful monster. The sort that makes mischief of one kind and another.
"We're watching you," they tease. "We're grading your first giant stride into cold water!"
I'm congested, on assignment and about to enter an alien environment with unfamiliar equipment. "Thanks guys. I'd hate for you to add to the pressure or anything," I shout.
Then I step into the fjord.
The dry suit shrink-wraps against my body. I cork upwards and hear applause. Let the wild rumpus start!
Mine doesn't last long: just seven feet under, pain spikes my eardrum. No matter. Bottom time was never an option with this head cold.
Suspended in jade water, my heart thaws. Time expands, like Max sailing in and out of weeks and almost over a year.
Finally, I heave back aboard the Down Time. Captain Diane produces a brownie, freshly baked in the galley.
And it is still hot.