On Friday evening I killed the second of our three hogs, and afterwards walked down to the pond to rinse away the piggut smell before bed. It was nearly dark, and the air was cooling fast, and I was goose bumped even before I came to the water’s edge, where I stripped and dove before I could second-guess myself. The water was colder than expected (and I’d expected cold) but I forced myself under again and again and again, scrubbing at my bloodied hands and forearms with a palmful of the sandy clay that forms the banks.
When I emerged it was just light enough that I could see heated water rising off my body. Now I was truly cold, that pinprick feeling of muscles tensed against it, and I started back up the path to home. Moving quickly. But still I smelled that dead pig smell on my skin; it’s one of those smells, like sex or fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, that once known cannot be mistaken. So I walked back to where water meets land. And then I walked a little farther, and then a little farther still, and finally, when I’d walked far enough that turning back no longer seemed preferable to staying the course, I went under again.