He was up to his knees in pond scum and discarded pool toys. He'd been there for most of the day. If the windows were open I'm sure we would have heard some choice words.
Things were not going well.
I've been calling the backyard pool area "Gray Gardens" for obvious reasons.
At one time it must have been a splendid respite. Evidence of elegant landscaping is still visible in spring as a blanket of daffodils and tulips push their way through the lawn, which any other time of year is choked in weeds and neglect. A stone patio meanders around a small in-ground swimming pool, its plates, in dire need of resetting, shift at dangerous angles. Large trees lean above it all, regal though untamed. In a perfect summer the pool would get sun but the parents would get shade as they performed their lifeguard duties.
When we moved into the house last year we didn't even bother uncovering the pool, which had been derelict for who knows how long. There were rumors the pool had been in use within the last several years, and we’d have liked to believe them. At least until we were ready to see for ourselves.
There will be time enough next summer, we decided, as we worked to get ourselves settled. Other structures in need of repair in our new home required our full attention. There were so many things needing nailing down that seemed to be coming up here and there: A leaky roof, broken doors, cracked windows, the acquisition of new appliances. … The list is never ending.
I must admit the decision not to take on the pool yard made me happy. I do not particularly like the idea of owning an outdoor pool. I don't see its value in the northeast, where perhaps a scant three months of use can be extracted from its watery depths. I’d just as soon fill it with sand and call it a lawn.
Always a Cassandra, I can only see the expense of repairs and maintenance, not to mention liability. I don't even want to think about the potential for disaster with little ones still running around. So frogs frolicked in the pool last summer instead of our family. I came to admire the nature that encroached as their chirping multiplied night by night. These noisy guests were no match for the mosquitoes, however.
Chlorine would have helped. Maybe. Fewer rainy days might have helped more.
"I really want to get that pool going," my husband mused as the extra warm days of spring came early this year. It became a kind of siren song, calling him to peel back the cover of the pool to finally see what's what underneath.
So I wasn’t terribly surprised one Saturday afternoon to find my husband dangling what appeared to be a gigantic tea bag (made out of the pool cover and containing everything that had been holding it down) over the pool from the hook of his crane truck as the kids and I return from errands.
The kids clamor to the back of the couch, jumping up and down with excitement. This is a spectacle worthy of fresh popcorn and a guy selling balloons on sticks out of a shopping cart, not to mention couch jumping.
"Poor neighbors," I think, turning my attention from the kids to the folks next door who were holding an "Open House" in hopes of selling the stately, renovated home. "No sale likely today," I say to the groceries as I put them away ... "not with the Clampetts living next door, experimenting with their C-Ment Pond, anyway."
RIP! CRASH! @FLUST #ubl@chute!
More choice words flow out with the detritus from the tea bag as it rips over the deep end.
"If they're smart they'll hold their next Open House when we're away," I continue to grouse over granola. "I should probably let them know now when to expect a vacation from us."
My husband slogs into the house with a grim look on his face. "I think something may have broken the pool."
The water is expectedly murky, though, and doesn't give away the damage caused by the accident. The ring left when the water recedes two feet overnight is the canary in that coalmine.
"Maybe we should check the basement to see if it’s flooding," I say, trying not to sound alarmed as I use the royal "we."
"No, the water’s not going there," he replies, with a tone that I interpret to mean he’ll check the cellar when I’m not looking.
"We'll it's got to go somewhere. ... Let's just hope it stays away from the neighbors'."
Write to Siobhan Connally at firstname.lastname@example.org