Dear friends, we are gathered together to give thanks to one dearly loved and fondly remembered swimming pool. This spring it became apparent that after a decade of faithful service, our beloved 13,000 gallons of fun had sprung a leak.
We could have replaced the liner, ordered water delivery, and had it up and running. The thing is, our children, the main users of this pool, didn’t express any real concern over the demise. In fact they pointed out, as the wise offspring of frugal people, that they had swam in it maybe three times last year.
Pools of the past
Regular readers will recall that this was not the first swimming pool to give its life in the service of our family. Over a decade ago a big blue bowl of an inflatable pool exploded when our dogs brutally attacked it. In their defense it did somewhat resemble a very large chew toy. Still, as thousands of gallons spewed out into the yard and pasture below, causing panic among the goats, I could not argue that our pool running over was not a good thing.
We made the decision, then and there, to go big or go home. In this case it was go big and stay home. Tired of spending the day at the public pool, schlepping snack bags and pool passes and paying for days filled with rain (no rainchecks), we decided to install a “real pool” at home.
Sure the installation itself was a bit of a pill. We got a great deal on the pool as we are prone to doing. The liner, new filter, excavation, sand, shrubbery, concrete and decking was a whole other story.
Basically we spent 10 times more to install the pool than we did for the pool itself. Nonetheless, if you asked me then or now I would confidently say that the pool was one of the best renovations we made to this old house and trust me, renovations were many.
Scent of summer
For a decade of summers it was party central, lounge and sun spot, and a place to gather on hot days and summer nights. Even when not in use (I’m really not much a pool swimmer myself) I enjoyed seeing it shimmering and blue out the back door.
Being midwestern(ish), it was almost always too cold to swim after dark. Still, surrounded by a glow of tiki torches we enjoyed many summer evenings around a nearby campfire while the pool glistened, the water quietly lapping. To this day that will always be my “scent of summer.” A mixture of Coppertone, charcoal, and the clean tang of chlorine wafting across the summer air.
The children spent countless hours jumping, splashing, and later, lounging. Swimming like dolphins searching for torpedoes and rings was replaced by carefully slathering themselves with oils and laying out on the deck or float. At over 6 feet tall, Boywonder no longer needed mommy to guard him poolside as he stood in 50 inches of water.
Our family, blessed with a boat, slowly transitioned to lake life. We spent hours on our boat with gazillions of gallons surrounding us (that may not be a purely scientific number). We enjoy bobbing in the cove with fellow boaters and wrapping up in a “boat blanket” to watch the sun go down over the lake (again, Midwest means that even in the height of summer “boat blankets” and “swim sweaters” seem necessary). The children transferred their adoration from inflatable turtles paddling around in the pool, to kneeboards and tubing pulled behind a speedboat.
Over the years we turned this old yard into a veritable playground. We tore down old, decrepit buildings, swept away broken glass and pried rusty metal from the ground. We lovingly added climbing sets, swings, a glider, and a pool. We have also seen it slowly wane back again, as nature, and time overtakes us.
Our nearly grown children no longer need playsets, fenced yards, and mom and dad hovering nearby. In fact, if they do have a herd of friends over they’d much rather play with fire — and that we make ourselves scarce.
Splash left behind
I have been dutifully mapping out new plans for the old space. Fire pits, seating areas, even exciting water features. Still, I keep having moments of near panic and remorse over the end of our pool days. What we are really facing isn’t the loss of a swimming pool but of being a tight nuclear family with small children.
It is difficult to see that gaping hole in the yard — and my heart — knowing that my days of “Watch me Mom! Watch me” are all just a splash left behind in time.
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