Ode to the Swimming Hole

First off, I am not a poet so ‘ode’ is by far too generous for the words that will follow. Alas, I am afflicted by visions of my own grandeur. So, let’s stick with ‘ode.’

As summer gets into full swing, we seek out places to cool our blazing hot Texas (insert where you live) jets. Just thinking about it makes me get all giddy like a little kid. Brimming with the anticipation of that clear, crisp plunge. Ahhhhh…

As this is an ‘ode’, I shall reflect fondly upon the summer refreshment of my youth.

I had a close childhood friend that liked to get as dirty and sweaty as I did as a kid. Have you ever seen Beverly Hills 90210? Well good for you, but it was nothing like that.

See how fancy I was with my ponytail? See the rhinestones on my headband? It was a little bit like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu.

No princess parties and pedicures here folks. For us, it was creek beds, forests and God knows what else. Hell, I think we were barefooted most of the time (which I still enjoy very much, by the way, regardless of the questionable looks I receive). We could really work up a sweat, but we had a perfect swimming hole where we could refresh ourselves.

DISCLAIMER: For those of you that grew up spending your summers in the Canadian Rockies, the south of France or Cape Cod, you may not want to read further.

Look at this…this is it. This was my swimming hole.

Seriously, that mosquito-infested, bog-like ditch was sheer delight when I was 11 years old. You want to dive into that picture don’t you? Admit it.

So, let me tell you a little more about this luxurious and enviable location…

The water was about 95 degrees and the most amazing hue of brownish-green with dirty sparkles

Unidentifiable specs and/or not-so-microorganisms would float by

If you held your hand one inch under the water, you couldn’t see it

When standing in this majestic body of water, the (let’s call it for lack of a better word) slime would reach mid-calf

We didn’t just get wet, we went all in, head first. Head first, I said, and we swam around like Brooke Shields in the Blue Lagoon (with clothes on of course, come on it’s the Bible Belt). Now I know that the lady next door was yelling at us to get out of that damned ditch because she understood well the makings of a monster ear infection that could rob us of our prepubescent hearing.  Of course, we just thought she was crazy.

I know this is a picture of a dude, but you get the point. Anyway, you know you wouldn't be my friend if this had happened to me.

But you know, notwithstanding the potential ear infections, there is a funny thing about that swimming hole.

It's Texas y'all and that sun can really burn up some ugliness

Stagnant bodies of water have a natural way of cleansing themselves. When algae builds up to a certain point (and what that point is I have no idea as I am not a botanist*) the water turns really green. At a point, the slime that lives on the bottom, rises to the top and can be seen floating on the top of the water. When this happens, the pond is extra-super disgusting and begins to stink (and yes, we would still swim when this happened). During this time, the water is almost putrid, but this is all part of a cleansing process. The sun will then bear down on the surface day after day and this layer will essentially “burn off.” What is left is a clear(er) pond or, in our case, beloved swimming hole. My mom explained this as “turning the pond.”

So although it wasn’t Cape Cod, I learned an important thing about life from that swimming hole. Over time, toxic things build up inside you. You don’t notice them because they build slowly but when their volume hits a critical point, they come bubbling to the surface. This process is a natural one, but isn’t a pretty one. Things can get really unsightly and even stink for a while. However, it will eventually burn away and what’s left is a clearer, cleaner, altogether healthier version of you.

*If there is a botanist out there that can help me better explain this, please speak up.

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3 Comments on “Ode to the Swimming Hole”

  1. Karey says:

    And every once in a while your younger (hee-hee) cousins would dive in with u!!! I was just telling someone about your watering hole… It was the “these kids don’t know how good they’ve got it with a pool… When I was a kid…” kinda conversation. Our version at Buffalo was Mr. Eddie’s pond. Complete with a zip line and water moccasins… But we didn’t care about appearances. We knew that underneath the layer of scum was cool refreshment and more fun than you could stand…

  2. Holly says:

    The Pond.

    It was called The Pond. I think we estimated it to be about 8 ft. deep, right? – give or take the foot of mud our feet would sink in at the bottom when we went down to measure. We also measured it by the number and distance of the steps on the pier, which were so slippery with slime that a misplaced foot landed a gigantic knot on my head one summer. I remember watching the tadpoles and poly wogs grow into frogs in that pond and sitting in the shallow section trying not to flinch when the minnows nipped at our ankles. It’s funny to look back and realize how disgusting it seems now. And in truth, I think we knew it then and just didn’t care. Maybe we could tell that it was strengthening our immune systems – I can’t remember the last time I had a cold!

    • The Pond.

      So it was. Those were some great memories. I think I remember letting my goldfish loose in that pond and seeing a gigantic fish a few months later that looked surprisingly similar. A great lesson how large you can grow if you grow your “tank.” Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you are doing well!

      Also, my colds are pretty few and far between too. I thank a healthy immune system ala swimming hole for that!


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