Monday, July 23, 2018

Time for a swimming pool? ~ My column from Sunday's paper

I never think seriously about owning a swimming pool until deep summer.

Jilda has wanted one since we married in 1974. Each summer she does a mock whine, “Why don’t we get a pool?”

I always thought pools were more trouble than they were worth. It was easy coming up with a litany of reasons why a pool was a bad idea. It will make our power bill skyrocket, they are hard to keep clean, they’re a pain to maintain in winter, and so on. But in late July when it’s hot enough to bake biscuits in the dash pocket of my truck, my resistance wilts.

I’m not sure why I’ve remained so resistant to the idea. Thinking back, I’ve always loved the water. I learned to swim during the summer between first- and second- grade. The Martin Hole was a wide spot in a gently flowing creek that ran through the heart of Sloss Hollow. The Martin family had lived nearby in the early 1900s.

Even today, when looking on Google Maps, you can see where the stream originates. It’s not coming from a lake or larger stream, but from deep within the earth under the canopy of oak, hickory, and pine, somewhere between Dora and old Highway 78.

The Martin Hole was about a half mile from my front porch. When it got too hot to run and rip outside, “the crew” would head to the swimming hole to cool off. I’ve never dipped a thermometer in that creek, but I’d be willing to venture it’s about 60 degrees year around.

Everyone went commando then, which meant we wore cutoff jeans and little else. We didn’t have to change into a swimsuit because we were wearing it.

The creek was about waist deep, and the bottom was covered in a layer of rocks worn smooth by eons of water flowing over them.

Moss-covered logs jutted out over the edge of the water on the far bank. They looked as if Mother Nature had upholstered them in green velvet. They were big enough to stand on, but I learned the hard way the creek was not deep enough for diving. I tried it one time, and I pulled gravel out of my scalp for days afterward. Every day’s a school day.

Edging the creek were ferns, honeysuckle, and a kind of vegetation that I cannot name. Dragonflies thrived in this environment. Once while floating on my back, a neon blue dragonfly lit on my nose and looked me in the eye for an instant before flitting off. In China, people associate the dragonfly with prosperity, harmony, and as a good luck charm. I chose to believe that this was true.

I spent a lot of time during the summers of my youth in that creek. It was a gurgling Dog Days oasis.

Fast forward to this week ...

While pulling the weeds from around our tomato and pepper plants yesterday, sweat soaked my T-shirt and dripped from the brim of my hat. Once back in the house, I fixed a tall glass of ice water and sat in front of the box fan.

I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s time to think about a swimming pool."


  1. I grew up with a swimming above ground Esther Williams Swimming pool and we had a lot of fun in the summer. My dad even went into it once but as we grew up, we swam less and less in the water but I cleaned it every day and began to look at it like a drudge. We had wasp nests forming under the metal walkway that surrounded the pool and we even had a yellow jacket nest right by the cleaner...forget the name. Anyway, I would rather find that swimming hole and 5ake a dip in that. You are lucky that you didn’t suffer anything worse than gravel in your hair.

  2. Those were the days weren't they.
    In California the temperatures are causing the pools to be full of hot water. Ozzy Osbourne ordered 3 thousand pounds of ice to be dumped into his pool. It lowered the water temperature 3 degrees. They are having a cooling system installed.

  3. Your swimming hole sounds like many of those I grew up with. Magic. At its best. Without chlorine or the need to clean the pool. Mind you, I was less fond of some of the critters we shared it with. Snakes swim much better than I do.

  4. We had a brook that ran behind our house and up the brook was a deep end that we dove in and all the kids in our area would spend the day there on hot summer days. The water was crystal clear and the bottom was covered with smooth river rocks of assorted colors.
    A pool sounds like a great idea. Just don't put one where trees stand as the leaves can be a problem.
    Hugs, Julia

  5. I have two sons that live down south and they both enjoy the pools they have. Thanks to my grandparents, I also got to enjoy swimming in the creek as a child. Either way you look at it, swimming is a great way to cool off.

  6. We had an above ground pool until a few years ago. The new saltwater filters are nice because you don't need chemicals. I was the only one using it after the grandkids were using the public pool more. I decided to take it down but miss it in weather like we've been having this year. Your weather is more suited to a pool since you stay warm longer and earlier than us up here. Think about it....

  7. Oh Rick! Between you and my son wanting a concrete pond! (Remember the Beverly Hillbillies?) Like they say about boats, I was so tickled when ours in Arizona was installed … but even more so the day we sold it!
    I wonder how many staycations at nearby resorts' pools you'd get for about the same $? Jus' saying ... :)

  8. My parents bought a large above ground pool when I was a child and we had it for many years and I loved it but they are a lot of work and as an adult I have never owned a pool

  9. When I was a teen, we would go to New Braunfels and swim in the Guadalupe. Sure, we shared it with the occasional snake, and snapping turtles, but there was enough water for all of us. We would take our inner tubes and float downstream, but you don't want to go to far, or there's the drag of having to walk back to the car carrying that black, hot inner tube the whole way. Still, it was a blast. We would also go to Pipe Creek, but after spending a few minutes on the "natural" slide we would be covered in teeny tiny leeches.
    I would rather do that than have to deal with all the headaches of a pool.

  10. Pools.. I opened and closed my BIL's pool so many times I told Sherry the only way I would have a pool would be concrete and inside. We did it. Smartest thing I ever did. So Put the pool adjacent to the A Frame rear and add walls and less A frame slope. It is used year round and CHEAP to maintain. Our yearly chemicals were less than opening an outdoor pool. stayed 91 degrees year round and cost fifty cents a day electric. We loved it. Coming in from work and diving into that was 'Wonderful'. Cleaning was a breeze. I would venture to bet that our pool paid for itself in 5 years. Plus we had the only indoor pool in town. LOL My only mistake was installing an extra furnace for the pool room. I would bet the owners now wonder about the thermostat on the wall. It was never used, heck the pool temp kept the house warm in winter. hahahah. That was 30 years or more ago and I'd bet the furnace is still like new and never used. Go ahead, put Jilda a pool inside and let her enjoy it year round.
    The only reason we sold the house was to hit the road and become gypsies. I was afraid to leave the pool unattended.

    1. Anonymous10:35 PM

      This sounds like the BEST idea!!

  11. There are three unique kinds of programmed pool cleaners for In Ground pools or more Ground pools, and they are grouped by the manner in which they gather garbage and move around the pool. "Automatic Pool Cleaner Review


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