It’s taken fifty-plus years – but today is the day! Over the past number of weeks, Charlie, my hunk ‘ o’ love, and I, dug, scraped, tamped, reinforced and laid out all the necessary components for… a pool. Nothing fancy. Nothing too big. Just one of those bulbous, blue, rubber-like vinyl pools that are supposed to go up real easy.
What perhaps you might not know, is that my brothers and I love water. When I was a pre-schooler, and playing in the bathtub at our little home in Burlington, Ontario, I would pretend to swim. I would imagine splashing about in the lake near our city, or travelling to the East Coast of Canada to frolic in the briny water. Yes – a pre-schooler. It’s in my genetic code. My Dad is from New Brunswick and grew up next to the Restigouche River. My Mother is from central Newfoundland, where the mighty salmon is King and the salt of the great north Atlantic is in the very breath of the air and fibre of the land.
So, all our growing up years, first as young children, in Burlington, then living in different parsonages because of my Dad’s profession as a minister, the one thing we always hoped for, was a pool. It didn’t have to be fancy, just something we could play in, cool off in, or exercise off, the stress of the day. Then, fantastically, finally, when my parents accepted the ministry call to a church in Niagara Falls, a miracle occurred. To us, it was like the deliverance of the children of Israel from Pharaoh, or the multiplication of the loaves and fishes for the famished and hungry. There – in the backyard of the parsonage – not shiny – not new – our own miracle. In the backyard, with stairs leading up to the landing, on the edge of glory, lay… a water basin, also known as, an above-ground pool!!
To put things into perspective: We moved into the parsonage just days before Christmas. My brothers were both attending college/university that year. Being in Canada, we would have to wait until after the Spring Thaw and the first warm days of spring before we could even remotely venture into the glorious water that awaited us.
At the end of the post-graduate year, my brothers returned home, anxious to try out the promised cool, refreshing, healing waters of our first truly, genuine, family-sized pool. It was a beautiful, unusually warm Spring that year, and my parents had gone to their cottage for a brief respite. Consequently, we had my Grandma come and stay with us for the duration of their vacation. I was home for lunch visiting with my Grandma when my brothers made their way out of bed and deciding to be decadent, make it a true “welcome home” “welcome to summer” occasion. They tried (and failed) to cook steaks on a make-shift grill in the back of the property. When it failed to light, they tossed gasoline… yes – gasoline – on the sticks they’d rounded up. This attempt made the two of them smell like the back of a grease-monkey’s work rag, so they gave up and decided to initiate the pool.
My Grandma and I sat at the dining room table facing the backyard, watching, talking and laughing as my siblings shivered and dunked each other. My youngest brother Dave, quickly felt the cold of the water and hopped out, but my middle brother, Gord, who never minded swimming in cold water, decided to splash around by himself. Shortly afterwards, we heard Dave, frantically yelling out to us. We looked out the window, only to see Gord standing in the centre of the pool, hands on his hips, a look of disbelief on his face, and water flowing like a river out through the newly formed hole in the side of the frame. Appropriately, the water poured out so rapidly and under such pressure, that it formed its own version of the great Horseshoe Falls! To say that our hopes were dashed that day, is a gross understatement.
Perhaps now you can understand my great yearning – longing- passion– to have my own pool. Being in a semi-country part of our area, we are on a well water system. This meant that we needed to call for water to be brought in. The water hauler, “Barry” came to the rescue.
The moment of truth was here. Will the pool leak? Will I have to run around and support the walls? Is the water going to pour out the side? I was nervous and excited and hopeful that we would be splashing around in our little piece of heaven soon.
Barry told me to hold on to the water pipe atop the pool ladder, as he turned on the water source. No problem. Then, as the pool started to fill, he lifted up a couple of sections that were wrinkled. No problem. I suggested that where the ladder was sitting in an awkward position. “Let’s move it up a bit. First gush of water over me and Barry. As the pool began to slowly rise with the pressure of the water, we noticed that it was tilting ever so slightly to the left. No problem. The pool was 98% full. Barry told me to hold on to the water pipe while he left to shut off the water source. I didn’t quite get there in time. Second gush of water all over me. After the water was off. We could see that the water was reeaallly high on the left side. But… no problem I assured Barry. I’ll ask my husband, and we’ll take away the bricks we put as a safeguard on the south side, which was obviously a little higher than the other sides.
“Thanks Barry”. “Bye”. Then off to change out of my wet clothes – laugh the whole time at what a spectacle I must have looked like, fighting a “pvc pipe” of pressurized water spraying out all over me – call Charlie to share the laugh and tell him it’s done. Then… like a slow-motion bad dream, I look outside… The “Horseshoe Falls” have transplanted themselves in my backyard! Quickly, I run out and begin to pull out the bricks I can reach, water recedes back, and the pool slumps down in defeat, a lesser shape of its former glory.
“I have a dream…” that I will one day enjoy the cool, refreshing, glistening, inviting water of my own pool. I will swim and play with abandon. I will exercise with graceful strokes across the radius of my blue gem with health and life surging through my joints. I will share restful moments of quiet enjoyment grinning blissfully across the watery expanse at my wonderful husband. I will share the joy of the St. George artesian spring water in my pool, with my loved ones. I will baptize members of my congregation with glowing face and misty eyes.
Yes, I will.
Perhaps, but not today.