Usually about this time of year I am funneling money into a hole in the water surrounded by wood. This year I am doing the same thing, except that it is a hole in our lawn lined with concrete. Driven by some insane urge to engage in projects that initially cost a great deal of money and then continue to regularly incur expenses over a limitless period of time, we now have a swimming pool.
When we thought of installing a pool initially, all we could think of were lazy hot summer days, cool exotic drinks and tasty grilled meals enjoyed by ourselves and others around a refreshing jellyfish-free body of water, that we could indulge at our whim any hour of the day or night. We gave little if any thought to the things of which we are now so painfully aware, such as the surrounding landscaping, the expense of running the pump, the regular cleaning of the submerged surface, the adding of just enough chlorine to prevent algae without burning the eyes of the swimmer, the endless list of regulatory requirements for owning a pool or the regular removal of pets, birds, mice, frogs and foliage from the water.
Not to mention the recent deluges that have sent me back to the book of Genesis, just to make sure that God really promised that He would never again cover the earth with water. Really, I mean, come on. Nearly twelve inches of rain in one week? I hadn’t even begun to understand about backwashing, filter cleaning and chlorination when, less than two hours after the final grading and seeding of the property, it rained for twelve hours straight. In the last nine months I have become somewhat of an expert on drainage, installing driveway drains, entry drains and drywells at every conceivable location that could help to eliminate the possibility of water coming into the basement. So now instead, it has become the daily ritual to estimate how much of the sodless topsoil and sand will wash into unwanted areas of the property after the next downpour.
Now I know I really have nothing to complain about. Whenever I feel that somehow I have been unjustly treated by the weather or other natural occurances, I just read the headline he country who have lost their homes and/or livelihood to a tornado, flood or fire. I then feel extremely blessed to live where I do and my so-called problems pale in comparison to theirs. I just have to deal with it.
A couple of years ago I wrote in this space about my attempts to mitigate the effects of rain and deer on our property. The ante on this has been seriously upped in recent weeks. After witnessing a white-tail blithely clearing a 4-foot fence from a standing leap after consuming an entire varigated hosta, it has been my daily task to make sure the garden is secure before retiring for the night. To do this during the ongoing construction and landscaping has been, to say the least, challenging. At one point, before buying and installing a 6-foot high fence, I attached about a dozen inverted tomato cages to the existing fence, their spiny legs pointed menacingly outward. This strategy kept the deer out, but resulted in at least an extra three hours of dismantling by the landscaping crew who were hindered by the fact that they were holding their sides laughing as they attempted to work.
The pool has also caused us to meet people we never would have otherwise. For instance, a concerned couple in a very expensive automobile stopped one day and actually got out of their car to make sure that our bulldog, seen running laps around the pool’s bluestone coping chasing a piece of floating evil plastic, was not bound to become another sad statistic. They were very nice. In fact, we might have invited them over for cocktails and a barbecue once the grass grew and it finally got hot. We understand with the rain about the grass not growing but seriously, the temperature? This past Memorial Day weekend was the first I can remember where I actually considered firing up the woodstove.
The pool has also attracted a considerable number of curious animals. Concerning the aforementioned bulldog, he has been taught to swim and now knows where the steps are. I have also removed a snake, a dead mouse and a frog from the skimmer. The frog definitely was not dead, proving so by smacking me in the face as it hopped out of the skimmer and back into the pool to swim a few laps. One animal we will definitely not see near the pool is the cat, as getting wet is number two on her list of things she absolutely hates, right behind having me run out of cat food.
There is no way our property will ever be “de-fence-less.” Four-foot, one-inch square rigid wire to keep small children and dogs out, and 6-foot green wire to keep the deer out. Once finished, I will have pounded in nearly four dozen posts and hung fence, some of it double, around a perimeter of nearly 350 feet. Just thinking about it makes me hot and sweaty.
Time for a swim!