Slipping into the pool I let the water slice the sunlight to where it opens up its strange, clear world. I dive to the bottom, looking at the painted cement. I see patterns in them, strange worlds that live below this crytalline, pristine paradise and I am awakened by a sense of not belonging to this world, as though I have been asleep.
It's always the same, this jolt out my reality, the moment I duck below the waves. Noise is suspended, my momements slower but more graceful. I swim the lap of the pool, keeping an eye on the bottom to see what the map is telling me.
At one end I pull on my yellow goggles to see what the world looks like filtered. Then the red, then the green. It's all the same, but the feeling is different.
Going in the early afternoons was the best, because there were fewer people. Mornings were taken up by the swim club and tadpole swimming classes. Evenings were for training and swim meets.
Mt. Air. The community swimming pool. I never understood the name, for it certainly wasn't an on any mountain and air is the antithesis of water.
Every spring, after the thaw and when the sky started to deepen its blue color, the pool got painted. It was white, a gaping cavern, forlorn and sad. But the painters came along and within a week the entire pool was painted a blue - the blue of phony skies and dolphins' underebellies. The color of summer. "Pool blue."
Next came the stripes, then the ropes and finally the stand was filled with candies and sodas. Then opening day.
From our house, perched above the pool on a hill, you couldn't see the pool through the rich summer foilage, but the sounds drifted up unlike any other - kids laughing and squealing with their little shrieks bouncing off the water up to us. The ultimate sound of summer.
We have our own pool in the backyard now in California. I love it. I don't even actually swim in very often because I intensely dislike what the chlorine does to my skin and hair, and the pool is not big enough to do any real exercise. And it's a nightmare (not to mention expensive!) to maintain.
But I love skimming the top with the cleaner. I love sweeping up the leaves that lie on top and reaching the long pole down the 8-foot bottom and grabbing wayward debris, for it makes this pretty Hum sound the deeper the pole is pushed. I love watching the water gently ripple and the sunlight bouncing off it in tiny twinkles. I love the colors, the rich blue and white tiles behind the backwall and the stones holding in their palm leaves.
We don't paint it every year but it's prettiest after it's just been painted: Pool Blue.
We don't have children, but most everyone around here has their own pool and I smile every time I hear the distinct sounds of kids playing and swimming.
Once when we were very busy, we forgot to put the chlorine tabs in the pool. The sun was warming (the algae grows faster when the sun is hotter) and within a week the pool was a swamp. Literally. We even had our own frog whose 'ribbets' sounded from deep down in the murky water. Always a comforting sound, but not coming from the pool!
At night we turn on the lights and the glowing orb of the pool reflects up the bedroom window, and much like fireflies and the smell of cut grass, remind us of the season.