“Always be like a water. Float in the times of pain or dance like waves along the wind which touches its surface.” ~Santosh Kalwar
Dear J, J, L and L,
One hundred four degrees. That’s the forecast high temperature here today. Makes me wish we still had a backyard pool like we had at the Saint Elena house. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have survived our first year or two here in Arizona without it, especially since we arrived in late August. Your ages then: sixteen, fourteen, nine, and five. I think it bridged the age gap between big kids and little kids quite effectively.
I think it’s really true that water is the stuff of life. If I think about it even a little, water plays an integral part in most of my memories of raising the four of you.
J and J, that little sandbox you played in nearly always ended up filled with water after hours of building roads or tunnels or castles. And the blue plastic play pool? Less than a foot of water and maybe six feet across, it got so hot some days even I sat down in it with you. You even managed to add water to the bouncy times at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s on the trampoline, turning on the sprinkler underneath and getting totally soaked.
Hour long baths highlighted most days and brought them to a stellar, soggy end for you two oldest when you were toddlers. Do you remember the big garden tub that we filled with bubbles and containers? You made it into your personal wave pool and played until the water cooled and you both shivered. I sat nearby on the toilet seat or counter top, usually reading a book, out of reach of your splashing and waterfalls and container experiments. It was my hour of mental escape.
Then when we made the move to the Northwest, about the time L came along, we hung out occasionally at Puget Sound, mucking about along the rocky shore. Once you brought home a pail of barnacles that we set out on the balcony. Nothing else smells quite as bad as dead sea life in a bucket.
Mostly we spent about three hours a day or more at the pool all summer long. You two older kids each wore a red tank top with a built-in inner tube. Fearless, as usual, you launched off the diving board about a hundred times an hour. We often brought lunch and lots and lots of snacks and juice boxes. Poor little L would get tuckered out and we’d put her in the shade in her stroller and let her sleep while we swam even longer. You had the brownest bodies, with tan lines that latest until Christmas.
Camping up near Index we always set up our tent beside that creek which you three oldest kids spent hours splashing and playing in. I think you even attempted to build a small dam to pool the water so you could swim. Too bad the water temperature always hovered near freezing as it flowed down out of the Cascades.
When we finally landed in the midwest, with its humidity and ever changeable weather, our summer days revolved around the local swimming pool hours and what times our friends would also arrive.
By then the red swim shirt inner tubes fit big L and little L or “fish girl” as we should have called her. At two and half, our golden blond baby leapt off the diving board into twelve feet of water like she was born to do just that. Meanwhile, poor big L hunkered at the edge of the pool, hands in prayer form, tipping herself gingerly into the water in her year-long attempt at mastering diving.
By then J spent his time trying to make his enormous splashes off the diving board land on the life guard. And J, like most teenage girls her age, spent her time working on her tan, chatting with her friends and catching the eye of a few too many guys. Ah, those were the days, huh?
When the diving board lost its entertainment value, I recall sitting in the baby pool, while L and L played beauty salon with me acting the role of the hapless customer. Pretend perms, shampoos and styles seem to last for hours.
The smell of sunscreen conjures such sweet remembrances in me. To drive past a public swimming pool all but makes me laugh. Rarely do I add bubbles to a bath without recalling countless bare bums and smiling faces poking out of mountains of white foam. It seems at least half my memories of each of you involve water somehow.
DaVinci once said, “Water is the driving force in nature.” That’s true on many levels. I know it’s especially true for your growing up years. If ever you feel an emotional drought in your life, I hope you remember as I so often do, the wonderful, water filled memories we shared.
With love and laughter,
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” ~ Margaret Atwood