In Tanya Lloyd Kyi‘s book When the Worst Happens, a great collection of true stories of survival, I read about “polar madness,” an as yet unproven psychological phenomenon that affects people who work for extended periods of time in the harsh conditions near the North or South poles.
The phrase came to mind again today, as I watched dozens of people, in various stages of dress, voluntarily plunge themselves into the cold, cold waters of Maple Bay for the annual Polar Bear Swim.
There were clowns, and princesses, and even a guy dressed as what I can only describe as a turn-of-the-century snake oil salesman (vintage suit, big hat, string tie). My son and his friends were among this merry band of . . . lunatics. Had he not announced his intentions as he pounced on me this morning, I would have happily remained buried beneath my lovely warm duvet for the rest of the day. Fortunately, the event was slated for a respectable noon start, so at least I had time to caffeinate and dress accordingly.
Bagpipes played and thermoses filled with hot chocolate were passed around. Everyone, participant and spectator alike, had giant grins on their faces. Those on the sailboats and kayaks just offshore had the best view. Seeing them dumping bags of ice into the water made the crowd on the hill shriek in delight.
The huge BOOM! (of course there was a boat with a cannon!) signaled the start and the horde raced down the boat ramp. Wrestling Mask Dude edged out Elvis, leaving the Giant Hot Dog in his dust. Mr. Vintage Suit took his time, walking in gracefully with a beatific smile.
It was something to see, all right, and it wasn’t just the hot chocolate that was warming my insides. Maybe next year I will join those brave nutters.
Nah . . .
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope that your 2015 is filled with just the right sort of madness.