The night before

Part of having a backyard pool is arranging for its opening and closing each year. We tried opening it ourselves one time and the combination of the heavy, muddy tarp and cold water made us realize that outsourcing the task was probably a wise use of resources.

So now we schedule an opening and a closing. Since we have a heater, we err on the side of having it open, often from the first days it is possibly warm enough to go in, until past the point where it would be pleasant to do so. And so these dates mark the first breath and the last gasp of summer.

The crew came on Monday morning. Sunday I was at the house by myself most of the day. My husband had pumped off the water from the automatic cover, and since the forecast was threatening rain, he called me and told me to open up that cover (so the crew could re-cover with the winter tarp).

I went out into the slightly chilly night. I walked in the mud along the pool to the automatic cover controls, where I turned the key. I opened it most of the way, then realized there was still some water, now concentrated. The puddle was full of fallen autumn leaves. I found a child's sand shovel and scooped the last bit off.

It was a very dark night, but still, opened up to the sky like that, the pool water was glistening. As I listened to the crickets I found myself remembering summer nights when the water had also shimmered, and I had sat there after the heat of the day had broken. So I paused a bit before going inside. I went over to the steps, where our pumpkin vine has grown halfway across the patio. I sat on the edge, and rolled up my jeans.

One foot in. The water was chilly but not freezing. It is October, not January. That is yet to come. There will be many months of the trees being bare, and snow and ice covering the tarp before slowly it will all melt. The frogs will come and lay their eggs on the tarp as they always do. And when we can, when the air hits 70 degrees for a few days, we will open the pool back up.

What will life be like for all of us, on that date 7 months from now? What plans will we have for the summer? What will the baby be talking about? (Will he be sleeping better?) What will I be working on?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I sat there for a bit with my foot in the cool water, pondering it all. I stared up at the cloudy night sky. And then, with summer over, I shut the gate and went back inside.

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9 Responses to The night before


  1. Mireille says:

    My partner and I had a similar evening recently. We walked down to the lake after work. It wasn’t warm enough to really swim, but we went out on the dock and put our feet in. It seems like we just went for that first swim of the summer and now it is already past!

    • @Mireille – yes, time passes. It always does, and early fall makes that clear. I will say, though, that this summer did not seem that swift to me. I think the 5 a.m. wake-ups probably had something to do with that.

  2. Katherine says:

    This is probably completely mad but I am thinking of buying a couple of end of season reduced wetsuits to add to one we already have so we can swim in the sea when we go to Scotland at the end of October! Now that really would be prolonging the summer.

    • @Katherine – now that sounds freezing! Maybe you need a dry suit for that!

  3. Shelley says:

    You are a beautiful writer! We used to have a pool so I can completely relate. Even without a pool now, there is always some moment when you notice the seasons have changed, whether it’s seasons of weather or seasons of life – the first evening outside after dinner when you realize you need a sweatshirt, or the first day that your 7-yr old, having just become comfortable riding his new, bigger bike, rides off with new neighborhood friends down the street, around the corner, out of your sight to play in someone else’s backyard.

  4. Laura, I just love how similarly our minds analyze the seemingly mundane and routine parts of life. Yes, just closing up the pool, but I had similar thoughts when the big black cover replaced the circle of blue out of my kitchen window. I was saddened by the thought that this view will be white in not too long and we will be stuck indoors, longing to shed our layers of clothes and run around in the green grass. But I also daydreamed about what life will be like next summer. It’s another reminder of how quickly time passes, so we need to make the most of each season.

  5. Helena Weiss-Duman says:

    Beautiful

  6. Emily says:

    The change of seasons bring such a mix of emotions. I wish we could hold onto summer, and yet we probably wouldn’t love it half as much without fall and winter. I think it’s great that you took that moment with the pool to reflect on life and change and the future.

  7. What lovely reflections on the turning of the season. It’s nice to pause in the middle of life to think about what’s going on and what’s to come.

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