This morning, a gander took a dip in our neighborhood pool. I heard him honking while I was walking the dog; so I stopped and watched him through the slats in the privacy fence. He was making a racket, honking loudly as he paddled around the pre-season murk of the deep end.
No doubt he was complaining about the cloudy water and the slick blobs of green algae splattered around the sides of the under-filled pool. He must not realize that the pool won't be ready for swimmers for three more weeks. We have a great deal of work to do.
Our pool has been in our neighborhood for many years; and while we don't have a swim-up tiki bar, a tube-shaped slide, or a lazy river, we have hours of memorable moments grilling hot dogs under the circus-striped awning and watching everyone's kids learn how to dog paddle.
My husband is assistant maintenance director for the volunteer coordinator of our neighborhood pool. It's a fancy way of saying he spends a great deal of time weed-eating outside the fence around the baby pool and replacing loose boards on the old, weathered, sunbathing deck. He carries a key to the gate and makes sure the brimming trash cans are pulled to the curb on pick-up days. As he chats with friends on the upper deck, he takes pride in the pool's tidy appearance...the little pots of flowers, the pressure-washed chairs, the carefully patched concrete.
My younger son tries to be the first one in the pool on Memorial Day and the last one out of the pool on Labor Day. He definitely logs the most hours there, his skin (in spite of layers of sunscreen) gradually deepens to a toasty brown. He has a group of friends, three boys and a couple of girls, who have made the pool their hangout for the past four summers. They run barefoot on the blistering surface of the adjoining tennis court and play wall ball, following a complicated set of ever-changing rules. They spread their towels on the deck and gather their allowance in order to have Jet's Pizza delivered poolside. Summer stretches ahead of them like a slow motion highlight reel.
Despite his busy schedule, my older son still finds time for the pool. He naps under the shade of a beach umbrella after varsity soccer two-a-days. Sometimes he sits on the edge of the pool with his long legs dangling in the water. He throws a spongy ball again and again to the little kids as they jump off the diving board. He throws the ball right into their hands so they can catch it triumphantly before making a splash.
As for me, I mark the summer hours by page numbers, reading novel after novel through my cheap sunglasses. I arrive early so I can claim my favorite chair. In one hand, I carry a vinyl book bag filled with library books and magazines; and in the other hand, I carry a Tervis tumbler filled with crushed ice and Diet Snapple. For eight weeks, I leave the worrying to the teenaged lifeguards; and I lie on the reclining deck chair with my eyes closed, tapping my flip flops to the background music of the ice cream truck.
"I can't wait for our pool to open," I thought this morning as I stood on the sidewalk, watching the gander shake his long neck in disdain. As the dog and I watched, the grouchy bird lifted off, still squawking his disapproval. I guess our little pool is not good enough for the gander, but it's good enough for us; and in my memories, it's better than good enough. It's perfect.