I have spent my adult life obsessed with poverty, and hanging around with people who have way less than enough. I believe it’s wrong that some have so much, and some so little, and when I bother to analyze the reasons, I find that the difference is rarely attributable to personal merit. click So I suffer from what people sneeringly call liberal guilt.I share all kinds of embarrassing personal information with you - about my messiness, my weak resolve, the complete and comical failure of my short-term memory - but the hardest thing for me to write about is our luxurious life. In the name of honesty, however, and out of my obsession with our latest adventure, I have to confess that we now have a swimming pool.
I’ve always wanted to have an outdoor living space. North Florida is glorious year-round, and it seemed a shame not to take advantage of it. We had a hammock in the backyard and a small wooden deck, but from May to September it was too hot and buggy to sit outside, and rain was a problem year-round.
Amanda gets the credit for suggesting we build a pool. I first seriously considered it when I was at the beach with the Muumuus: I jumped into the icy pool before dawn and felt all my old joints cry out in relief. Joe and I talked it over for months, and eventually decided that since we had the money, and it would make such a difference in our lives and health, we would go ahead and do it.
We began the process last April, consulting with contractors and making decisions about features and design. Joe did most of the work, and though I truly appreciated it, I had to struggle for patience with repeated discussions of every conceivable detail. click In the end we decided on a salt-water pool with solar heat, a lap machine, a big deck, and a screen enclosure with an overhanging roof, so we could be outdoors all year round.
First, three big trees had to come down. It was not a difficult decision. Two were completely hollow. The third, very close to the house, was a menace: the tree surgeon told us it would certainly come down on its own if we didn’t take it down. We had already had one tree through the roof click and weren’t eager to repeat the experience. Still, these trees had filled most of the sky in our backyard, and framed thousands of sunsets. It was sad to see them come down, but after they were gone, we discovered that the newly opened sky, still surrounded by trees, gave us many more stars.
The tree surgeon finished his work and the big machines came to stay for awhile. They rumbled around, tearing up the weeds and wildflowers, leaving a big expanse of bare sandy dirt. It was noisy, and there were men in the yard for months, but it was fascinating to watch the pool being built. I had a ringside seat from my recliner, and sat watching with a cat in my lap and a glass of tea. The best was when a concrete mixer moved into the driveway for a couple of days and sprayed concrete through a huge tube into the hole - they call it blowing the pool.
They built the deck, installed the pump, the salt chlorine generator and the lap machine. The electrician came and upgraded our circuits, hooked up the machines, installed lights and a fan. A solar contractor installed a bunch of tubes on the roof to heat the water, and a different company built a high screen enclosure. Finally they filled the pool with water from our garden hose - it took two days.
In November, for the first time, Joe and Amanda and I jumped into the cold water and played around for about ten minutes, till we were chilled to the bone. And then every morning before drinking my coffee, so that I was too sleepy to think, I jumped into the 64-degree water. I loved it, looking up at the stars and feeling the icy water on all my aching joints.
After ten days of this, I developed a terrible rash on my legs, arms, breasts, butt, and belly that itched like poison ivy.
A friend speculated that the curing concrete was affecting the water. Though our test strips didn’t show a problem, I decided to wait thirty days to let it cure, and try again. But when the time came, I kept postponing the trial. I was afraid the rash would return, and was bracing myself for the disappointment of a pool I couldn't swim in.
Finally in March I ventured in again, and all was well. Now Joe and I are swimming almost every day. In the evening the three of us cavort, and with the weather and water warming up, we’ll be inviting friends to play. Inside the screen, the bugs can’t get us, and when we get too hot, we just jump in the pool. Joe’s spacious design has given us a high open room, where we can sit under the roof and watch the wild Florida rains. Neither broken nest egg nor liberal guilt can diminish my delight.