One of the great things about summer are the kind of days I just recently had where I spent the entire day swimming in my back yard as storms rolled through sporadically. The diversity of a hot steamy day from the vantage point of a Jacuzzi watching the clouds roll in swiftly overhead then experiencing the sudden 20 degree drops in temperature as the rain comes through blotting out the sunlight and within moments all signs of a blue sky are gone is invigorating.
During these some of these sudden downpours while the lighting streaked across the sky I would step out of my hot tub and jump into the cold water of my pool. The hot tub is approximately 102 degrees so sweat was pouring off my face. The rain was cold but not nearly as frigid as the 72 degree water. Jumping suddenly into such wild temperature fluctuations from the hot tub to the cold pool water are how I have spent many of my summers for over a decade. When I have those rare days where not much is expected out of my time, that’s how I enjoy spending it.
This year I had to do major structural work on my pool so after two months of rather extensive work, I finally have it back up and running just two weeks after the normal Memorial Day weekend openings. There were times during this major overhaul that I wondered if it would ever function again.
My wife has planted some rather extensive vegetation around our pool, so when swimming in the heat of the summer it reminds me of a bizarre tropical rain forest, especially when the rain comes down hard. Anytime in the summer when big storms come through I make a point to go swimming. There is something primal and necessary in the task that I find endlessly refreshing. With my body temperature over 100 degrees from the hot tub and only cooling off a little in the pouring rain, the sudden cold water of the pool has a tendency to quickly contract the surface of the skin in response.
But on this particular day in this particular storm there was added meaning. The pool water since I had to do such a major overhaul was all new. Not a single human being had been in the water before my leap into it during the ravishing storm. And not an ounce of chemical had been added yet. The water was pure, straight from the facet that was nearly as pure as the water falling out of the sky during. Water like that has a particular texture as you push your hands through it and when you dive underneath it is crystal clear. It’s fascinating to be under the water and feel the rumble of thunder outside and see the rain pelting the surface of the pool from under the water, then to resurface and see that the stormy winds are knocking around all the trees and kicking up the vegetation.
After my body cooled down to well below its normal body temperature I then went back to the hot tub and sat in it for another hour. In my duration there another storm came and went then I returned back to the pool for another 30 minutes of swimming. My wife kept a clear glass of water filled on the side of the pool for me to drink. Each time I passed by it I noticed how clear the liquid was and the ice cubes inside had a particular luster exhibiting luxury in a perverse way.
The trees around the pool looked majestic from inside the water. They loom up and over the pool just as my wife designed them to, giving the feeling of an eddy along a tributary of the Amazon, only without the dirty water or the piranhas. There just aren’t many places in the world where these things go together and are only the result of manmade creations. Watering holes like my pool do not exist in nature. The fact that you can walk in it without getting your feet dirty in the mud of a pond or river makes the experience truly soothing. The filtration system keeps the water crystal clear and scoops up the leaves from all the trees around the pool before they have a chance to sink to the bottom. That’s when it occurred to me that it is the filtration system that makes the unique experience of my pool so unique.
I’ve been on rafting trips and spelunking voyages where you crawl through the mud and water on your belly for yards as you freeze from being deep inside a cave and it’s very uncomfortable. Trees often grow along the sides of rivers, but in nature I never enjoy them quite the same as in my pool. You can never totally relax in the wild. It seems like you’re either always sweaty and dirty and the water of a river has all the garbage from everything that’s upstream. But after a hard day of hiking, it always feels nice to fill up your hat and pour it over your head to cool off.
My family and I have been a lot of places, and seen a lot of things, some of them quite startling. So I know the difference, and there is a time and place for adventure. I often ride my motorcycle in the hardest of winters, even when there is snow on the ground. And I’ve done and seen about everything there is to do outside in just about every condition it could be presented in. But there is nothing like a clean pool that has only had your body in it that is cleaned by a filter that you maintain that is in your back yard.
It’s a similar sensation as to why hot dogs on a back yard grill taste so good even though they are the same hot dogs that you can buy anywhere. It’s because the hot dog on the grill is the product of your private property. Your grill, your hot dogs, your back yard, cooked by your spouse—the operative word is in “Your.” There is a lot to be said about ownership, and those who do not have ownership are missing out on one of life’s great treasures. This is why when someone invites you over to grill out, they are so thrilled, but the food to the visitor just tastes normal. They are feeling the result of their property, while to the visitor; it’s just another hot dog.
My wife and I enjoy the Kings Island water park, but it’s never as fun as the pool in our own back yard. I always come away from the water park feeling dirty, and looking for a way to take a shower. I can enjoy the experience, but it’s never as refreshing. Even though the water in my pool has been swirling around the planet since the beginning of time, it has been in oceans, lakes, rivers and been drank by all types of animals even dinosaurs at some point in time. But the water that falls from the sky in the violent summer storms is as clean as it gets on earth, and I love to see it fall from the sky and bounce off my chest and run into my pool which is controlled and cleaned by me.
Most people would complain that the trees around my pool put too many leaves back into the water, but I don’t mind. It’s worth the extra cleaning to have the sharp contrasts, to have the diversified foliage mixed with the clean water, just as I enjoy the contrast of the hot Jacuzzi water with the cold pool water. The extremes are healthy and actually refreshing so long as they occur within the context of ownership.
As I swam in the storm and enjoyed the water most of the day, I thought of all the people in my life who told me that I should not swim when there is lightning flashing across the sky because it’s dangerous. I pity such people because they cling so resolutely to living when their form of living is just a fraction of life’s potential. If I could, I’d teach everyone in America to enjoy such afternoons of swimming in the summer storms, but that would require a majority of Americans to drop communism as an option, to drop the community pool with the dirty sidewalks and urine in the water, and give up apartment living. They’d have to buy their own homes and do what it takes to purchase property and maintain it. Then they could enjoy the food from their very own grill while they soak in their very own hot tub, and swim in their very own pool, because that is the way life is supposed to be in America. And it can be that way for everyone. All that’s required is context, and ownership, and the treasures of a person’s own back yard can eclipse years of adventures all over the planet which are always secondary in their fulfillment. I have done it all and seen it all, and there simply isn’t anything better than that moment when I get to jump in my clean pool after soaking in the hot tub for over an hour while heavy rain pours from the sky. It is an experience that the whole world should be able to realize at least for a portion of their lives, because within those simple actions are the highest aims in human existence—ownership and command over one’s destiny even as we mock the danger of Mother Nature by swimming in a pool of water while the jealous bitch hurls lighting down upon us. That’s when I love to swim on my back and give the good old middle finger to the angry clouds as they pass over head urging me to run for safety. No—it’s my pool and my time, and I will do with it what I please, in spite of what Mother Nature decides to do in protest.
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