Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Danish Cultural Experience

Danes are well known for their height, sweet pastries, and coalition governments. Danish city streets are lined with shiny, happy people walking around in the middle of the day - as if they don't have jobs. Young couples are pushing state of the art baby carriages (filled with babies) and everyone else is riding a bike. Hipster style has hit Denmark harder than the Montreal Plateau. (I am not interesting enough to make that reference... I regret trying).

It is a beautiful place to visit, and even better place to spend lots and lots of money. In return you get free fish at local festivals and fresh sea air.

Denmark (seen below) is surrounded by water, so it comes as no surprised that they spend a lot of time visiting it. In the fall and winter months they don't shy away from the coast. Rather, tens of thousands (probably) join winter swimming clubs.

-Take that Smoggy Hungary

Coming from Canada, you would think I would be able to relate to such a phenomenon. It is cold in Canada, we have coasts! However, growing up on the prairie, in a town that drains it's outdoor pool mid-September, I had to say I was a bit surprised when asked if I would like to visit the winter swimming club.

So many questions/thoughts jumped to my mind:

What if I throw up in front of people because I get salt water in my mouth?

Is it shark season?

Should I shave my legs or will the hair keep them warmer?

What if I cry because it is so cold?

What if my foot touches a gross weed at the same time a fish brushes my leg and I freak out and step on a really sharp piece of rock and then I run out of the ocean splashing water into my mouth and then puke in from of EVERYONE?!

I thought I was brave enough to attempt to swim in the icy waters and risking public vomiting but, I had forgotten my swim suit. Sigh!

Now, my prairie naiviety led me to believe that this would be an integral part of swimming in the Danish ocean. I could not have been more wrong. I was assured that a bathing suit would not be needed, in fact it would be frowned upon. This was a naked club.

Note: I can barely change in an empty change room at the pool without doing that weird 'towel in the mouth' dance to cover one's parts.

After a day of decision making time I decided that:
a) I don't know any Danes - I won't run into anyone I know;
b) It would be cool to retell this story (I've rendered this point uncool by saying cool, haven't I?);
c) There might be a documentary being filmed about Danish people in their natural habitat at the ocean and I could be a part of;
d) Opportunities like this only come up once in your life.

So there we have it. Naked swimming is an event I have taken part in. The water was too cold for me to get more than 10 cms away from the ladder. I didn't get any water above my neck so puking sea water wasn't an issue. My companions, average age 68-75 seeing as it was mid-morning on a workday, made me feel totally welcome in my new surroundings; chatting to one another as they bathed in the morning sun, leathered bodies lacking any semblence of a tan line...

-The building surrounds the swimming area and holds little saunas with ocean views.

-I was rewarded with hot coffee and breakfast on the beach.

-While wrapped in blankets, enjoying our post swim breakfast a seven year old ran around on the beach... naked.

More importantly though, this was the same day I tried orange marmalade after 24 years of being told it was toxic garbage not to be consumed only to realize that it wasn't half bad... I will stop judging people for having it in their fridge. I guess it too was just another lie told to me by my parents. Similar to the time my Mom told me for 14 years that I HATED the way sweat pants felt and refused to purchase them for me. WHO WEARS SWEAT PANTS ALL THE TIME NOW?!

This marmalade eating rebel - that's who:

1 comment:

  1. Bwahhhhh ha ha ha. Ed and I are laughing in Eaglesham. Good for you, swimming in winter.