Retrospect: the pool

Self-tutoring about people, places, and events from the past: the tutor mentions a seasonal one.

On one side of the family, my grandparents lived in the same town the entire time I knew them. It was a charming, old-fashioned town, with maybe around 2000 people, and a lot of farms surrounding it. Winters were long and desolate; summers were short and lively. The town barely changed, while the outside world most certainly did. The people in that quaint town liked it so.

In such a place, there was virtually no economic opportunity like we imagine today, so sports were very important. During summer, baseball, softball, tennis, pickup basketball, or even playing catch with a baseball or Frisbee were all activities you saw – and did – often. Of course there was swimming – at the pool.

That town didn’t have any lakes within walking distance, but it had an outdoor pool (but no indoor one). Likely it wasn’t open more than 10 weeks per year. However, like the summer bloom, when that pool was open, it was busy. My grandmother would take me there sometimes.

At the pool, everyone knew everyone, whereas I, being from elsewhere, knew no one. I’d use the diving board and swim around, cooling off from the sun. It was always a solitary event, for me, even though all around me, other kids shouted and talked energetically.

However, I didn’t only visit that pool during summer. While staying at that town, I’d often go walking – once again, by myself. My grandparents lived near that pool, so I’d go by it in autumn, winter, or spring, when it was deserted. It looked much smaller then, a fenced-off concrete fixture with a little one-storey building adjoining it, and a few bleachers inside the fence. It was always hard to believe such bustle had occurred, a few months earlier, in such a small space.

There were more bleachers outside the fence, as I recall. If (when the pool was open) a parent came with you, but just to watch rather than to swim, they wouldn’t enter the pool area. Rather, they’d sit on wooden bleachers just outside the fence. There was a worn path between them and the fence whence people would climb up or down.

What interested when I’d visit the pool during months when it was closed, was that although I never saw anyone there, it continued to be a somewhat lively place, just in a different way. I’d see litter there, for instance, indicating people continued to go there. More interesting still, there wasn’t a store nearby: people clearly walked some distance, carrying those goods, to meet there. Something was always different, even though I never saw anybody – not there, or even on the road to or from there, at such a time.

What impresses me, in retrospect, is how much open space there was around that pool – a flat field lay around it everywhere but the gravel parking lot. It seemed like a featureless plain, during its closed months. Yet, it remained a focal point to local people I never knew.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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