Our pool came with the house Hubby D and I purchased eons ago, an impromptu decision with no subsequent pangs of buyer’s remorse. Yes, it’s true: if you have to ask the cost of maintaining a pool, you should think twice about acquiring one. Naturally, every pool needs that special someone who understands the importance of monitoring cleanliness and chemicals, whatever it takes to avoid the horrors of health problems and out-of-control algae. Enter the indispensable Pool Guy. Our Pool Guy does a terrific job and works dirt cheap, actually for nothing more than food and drink and an occasional swim. Er … that would be Hubby D.
From Day 1, the pool has been my guilty pleasure, one I justify by money saved from not smoking or gambling or carousing, and by limiting my alcoholic intake to the occasional glass of wine, beer, margherita, or Limoncello. The pricey Scotch I reserve for discriminating guests. Or, sometimes as a medicinal pain reliever or nightcap when I can’t sleep. Additional savings come from our pet-free zone—not that I have anything against four-legged creatures. Cats, I find intriguing but they make me sneeze. Dogs, we always had when I was growing up but the adult me prefers the freedom of coming and going as I please.
There’s something quite uplifting about swimming at six o’clock in the morning, with the sun sitting low in an overcast sky and the only sound coming from a medley of chirping birds. Time passes quickly while I think about my current work-in-progress and watch a mix of cardinals, robins, yellow finch, and hummingbirds fly overhead. Eventually, they perch on the branches of surrounding trees—Austrian pine, weeping cherry, American elm, American holly, and ginkgo. Our prized ginkgo has grown to three times its size from when we moved here, with sturdy branches continuing to extend further and further over one end of the pool. Ah, yes, the ginkgo, a species dating back to pre-historic time and still valued today for its longevity and fan-shaped leaves. In early fall those leaves turn a golden hue and drop into the pool they partially shade—by the thousands and much to the consternation of my indispensable Pool Guy.
From late spring to early fall my daily pool routine consists of fifty laps, a non-stop, forty-minute session alternating between the sidestroke and backstroke. During the 90-plus temperatures of summer I start each day in the water, after setting the coffee to brew and before eating breakfast. For a number of years I swam 178 laps every day—the equivalent of one mile in our 34-foot pool length. Those 178 laps took about 75 minutes to complete. At some point I slowed down and committed to a half-mile daily swim—88 laps. But as time went on, those 88 laps started taking as much time as the full mile used to take.
If returning to my original routine was a matter of stamina, I think I could still manage those 178 laps if they were on my back or side. That’s the beauty of swimming with my face out of the water. But the issue now boils down to commitment—how much time am I willing to dedicate to a swim that used to take 75 minutes but could now take … upwards of two hours. Hmm, I don’t think so, not when I feel this virtuous for meeting a realistic goal that meets my current expectations.
What about you? Any virtuous feelings or goals you’d like to share?