The Pool

(Bill Girdner / CNS)

Almost every day after work, I take a swim in a pool where I cut half of the natural stone that rims its edges and chose the ocean blue color of the bottom that refracts through the pool’s salt water.

Set in an old river bed, I consider it a magic pool. It has, I know, restorative powers. It is long and relatively shallow, made for a good long swim. And if the old river’s spirit were still around, it would find safe haven in that water.

The surface of the pool is peppered with oak leaves, the occasional flower petal and small, purple-black pods that bob in the water. The water is slightly roiled by the underwater jets of the water filter, giving the surface the illusion of flowing water.

As I step down into the pool and lean forward to slowly start a swim, I feel the day’s work coming unstuck from the skin. And as I settle into the laps, the day’s projects filter through my thoughts easily and seem to settle.

And eventually, there is just the steady pace of pulling through the aquamarine water, bumping into leaves and pods dropped from the oak tree high above and seeing the unfocused, dappled dance of light on the blue bottom.

Coming out of the pool, the nervy tiredness of the office is gone. A few steps away is an old garage with half the roof gone. Inside, among the tools and faint smell of oil and grease and dust is a beat-up refrigerator. Inside the refrigerator is nothing but a few brown bottles of Kirin light beer.

From my time in Denmark, I have learned to pop the top off a beer with just about anything, including another capped bottle. And then I sit at the end of the pool, looking west, in a weathered outdoor chair under a big umbrella, watch the moving water in the pool, with small waves reflecting off the sides from the swim. And drink my beer.

There is a skeleton, a remnant of a house at my back, down to the two-by-fours with its roof gone. The land around the pool is dark-brown dirt with beams stacked in some places, concrete rubble in another and a tractor. But the pool, which came first, is pristine.

So I watch the water and my neighbor’s towering, light-green wall of bamboo, behind which the day loses its light as the sun drops down. Every once in a while, I hear the distinct ploink of one of the oak pods dropping into the pool.

Rising behind me in the east this week was a full, fall moon, the orb big and bright, orange-yellow, low on the horizon against a darkening sky. There is almost always a light, balmy breeze.

That is the most peaceful time.

And the birds abound. As the light was going one day last week, a small chunk of a bird hopped around below the old dusty Acura parked next to the pool, hopped a bit closer, confident it seemed, then took off straight towards me, then, showing off, fanned his wings fully to brake just a few feet away, and swerved off to find a new spot atop the neighbor’s garage.

Eventually the beer is gone, and it is time to go. I do so with a bit of regret but also with a deep sense of calm.

Those early evenings put me back into the natural rhythm, surrounded by water, sky, dirt, trees, bamboo and birds, hooked back onto the slow cycles of the celestial bodies.

But that time of contemplation often comes around to dwell on what beauty it is that surrounds us. And inevitably to the corollary.

How is it I wonder that we live in a time where a political party in power is hell bent on trashing that beauty. And how is it that our people, the people of a great nation, a nation that is truly majestic, put up with it.

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