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.