Throughout the summer and fall the bathtub perched on the towers of rocks just above the intertidal was our own form of luxury living. Often with a cold beer in hand, I would slip into the tub, perching carefully on the wooden slab on the bottom, the only defense between my butt and the burning fire just below. But once you were in and comfortable, it was hard to get out, especially after enough rain had fallen to justify using fresh water as opposed to the saltwater we’d been using all summer. Saltwater was fine, but had a tendency to leave you feeling as dehydrated as a tumbleweed.
After two days of torrential rain that turned the Hanson Island creeks from trickles to raging rivers, the sun came out, the wind shifted to the northeast, and the mercury sped past zero bound for the horrible land of below freezing. The time seemed right, to break out the tub again, and enjoy the sun and cold air from our very own hot tub. But the water we were filling the tub with was frigid. Bombarded from all sides by the freezing temperatures, our little fire underneath seemed woefully meager. Yet we were committed to this bathing adventure, and we resolutely threw every piece of relatively dry wood we could find onto the flames and watched as the water temperature rose by tenths of a degree. By 4 o’clock the sun had dipped behind the trees, and without the sun’s rays, a cruel chill swept into the cove as our numb fingers continued to feverishly feed the fire.
After four hours, I’d had enough. Plunging my cold hands into the bath water, I declared it hot and ready. Of course, after exposing them to the freezing air for the last 15 minutes, anything would have felt warm. I’d had a great idea for a photo though. One of us, in the tub, back to the camera, silhouetted by the setting sun with steam rising into the chilled air, a Kokanee in hand. In my minds eye it screamed Facebook profile picture. I stripped down and slid into the tub. The warmth my hands had felt moments before was all relative. While the water wasn’t cold, lukewarm may have been a little too generous. Any ideas of a photo shoot vanished as the first gust of cold wind hit my little bath. Every exposed inch of flesh erupting in goose bumps. Splashing water alleviated the chill for just seconds as the cold air pulled any warmth it created from my skin.
Screw this. At lightening pace, I scrubbed soap over my body and passed shampoo over my hair briefly, feeling my hair begin to freeze as I rinsed. As cold as it was, I knew getting out would be even worse, and contemplated curling up in the bottom of the tub with just my nose above the surface for the night like some pink, freshwater sea lion. With a gigantic effort I pulled myself out of the tub and began pulling on every article of clothing I could, dry body or not. Sprinting back to the house I threw open the door, greeted by the warmth of a roaring fire and the insulation of our fancy, new, thermal pane windows. The goose bumps began to recede, my hair thawed, the shiver rolling up and down my spine disappearing.
Form the table Brittney looked up, hands perched above her keyboard, eyeing me skeptically. “How was it?” She asked.
I gave a small smile, trying to think of a positive way to spin it, to convince her that it was worth it, and not to let our hours of fire feeding and frozen phalanges go to waste. “Well….” I start. “I’m glad I’m clean now.”
With a look of grim determination Brittney rose, grabbed her towels, and with a deep breath as if preparing to leap off the high dive, stepped outside and into the growing darkness.