Seep. The way a liquid travels from place to another through a porous substance. Water will usually seep into your basement through cracks in the walls or floor, or it might seep through the porous concrete and leave crystalline traces after it dries. Seeping is insidious. It happens because of pressure--something is pushing that water along, forcing it through the earth like giant sponge is squeezed, forcing all the water to squirt out.
Do you ever think about seeping water? Most of us don't I'm sure. Why would we, and yet, water seeps along, filling places like marshes and bogs, certain lakes, and it even forms small streams and brooks. The water that comes from a spring seeps from the earth.
If you've never actually seen a spring, there are two kinds. There's the kind that water seeps from. Unless you look very closely, it won't make much of an impression. It may even just muddy the ground a bit, unless you dig a hole and line it so that the water can gather without turning everything into mud. Another kind is still a seep, but it flows much faster than the first kind. You can watch the water bubble from the earth, the sand roils up, drops and is caught in a never ending cycle.
You can find lakes fed by these springs. They are called seep lakes and are often cold and the last to warm in the spring after the ice goes out, because they are fed by a constant influx of cold, spring water that issues forth at between 40 and 50 degrees F. Swimming in a lake like this is pleasant on a hot day. The not-quite warm water feels pretty good, but then you drift over the spring and the temperature plummets dramatically. Suddenly, the cool water is downright cold as it seeps up around your feet, brushes against your legs and the goosebumps ripple and pebble your flesh.
You might kick and stroke to get away from the stream of seeping cold water, if it feels too cold. On a hot day in the dog-days of August, you might just stay a minute or six, and let the cool water cool your bones a bit more than usual. It feels good to cool down in the seep.
I know a lake up north. A lake you have to walk to, about a quarter mile from the road--not that far. Most of it is surrounded by swampy, low land and if you get too close, you'll get your feet wet. The lake is a seep lake, not so very deep at about 18 feet. If you walk around the western shore, then turn north, you come to top end of the lake where the ground is highland and the banks tip steeply toward the dark, cold water.
In August, when the rest of the lakes and streams are warm and tepid like bathwater, it is worth the walk to get there. Clothes and boots left on the shore, on a stump so the creepy crawlies don't find their way in, you dive into the water and the shock of cold will take your breath away.
After a few moments, the cold seeps away, and you're refreshed and swim about in the cold, seep water of the springs that fill the lake.
Water seeps, and in August in the North Woods, that is a good thing.
Photo Credit: Mackinac Island Spring Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons