When we bought this house nearly eleven years ago, this was the view from our patio off the back of our old farmhouse. We never cared much about having our own swimming pool, but since it was already here, that was pretty awesome. Except for the fact that I had two preschoolers, a toddler, and an infant, and as you can see, there was no fence around the pool. But it was an incredible view, and at night, the moonlight reflected off the water, and the stars were so bright overhead, and I thought my husband and I would spend every summer night on rafts in this pool. We'd float around in the quiet watching fireflies and sipping some wine or a Gin & Tonic after the little ones had gone to bed with the baby monitor plugged in next to us. I'm not sure what I imagined our teenage son doing at the time...listening to music, watching a movie, reading a book? It doesn't really matter because we only ever ventured into that pool by ourselves one time at night anyway.
Because here's what no one ever told me about having a swimming pool in the country on the side of the mountain: all kinds of creatures come to the pool...especially at night. We had already seen the multitudes of long, thick black snakes slither up from under the concrete each May when the weather got warm and we were just opening up the pool. Sometimes early in the season, we'd be floating in the water on a sunny afternoon and two or three snakes would come slithering along the concrete and off into the grass. We discovered early on that mice, birds, moles, and even an occasional rabbit came to the pool at night and then drowned in the water early in the morning. We've had Amish neighbors' geese and ducks show up there, and one time, even a cow! Of course, lots and lots of insects, centipedes, and spiders are also drawn to the water, and that means when it gets dark, the bats come too.
The first night that my husband and I actually got the kids to bed without us falling asleep in the process, we poured ourselves some vino and sneaked out to the pool. Never mind that the boys' room looked out over the pool; we'd just quietly step in for a quick dip, and they'd never know we were out there. We were in the water sipping wine looking at those magnificent stars and feeling like the luckiest couple on earth. This was paradise; who needs a vacation? That was until I felt something swoosh down and brush against my hair. Then it happened again and again. My husband felt it too. We looked up and there were bats swooping down to catch the bugs flying around and landing on the water. And they didn't stop. And I was done. No matter how quiet, peaceful, or romantic of a night this was, there was no room for bats in my vision. And we never did that again. I figured that one day in the future, when our kids would be older and in school or out of the house, we'd go out there alone again while it was still daylight when the bats were wherever they go at night around here. I don't want to think too hard about that.
But alas, that is not meant to be because this past winter our pool liner ripped. We noticed the water level going down after the pool was covered. We knew that come spring, we would have to finally fork out the money to have it replaced. We weren't thrilled about it, but we were prepared. But things just got worse. With each violent storm we got this winter and early spring, the situation got worse and worse. Pieces of the liner tore and blew all over the yard and lane. Where the pool cover had pulled away, it looked to me like concrete was starting to crumble, and was that actual dirt falling into the pool? When I made the call to the swimming pool business and told them we might need a little bit more than just a new liner, he asked me to send him pictures. I knew it must be bad.
After receiving several quotes of upwards of $15,000, I told my husband we just weren't going to do it. After the first month that we have it open, our kids lose interest in swimming in it. Last year after lunch each day, I had to force them to spend an hour in the pool because their dad and I had just spent hundreds of dollars on more pool chemicals and hours of our time cleaning it. I literally had to set a timer to ensure they'd be out there a full hour. I realize how ridiculous this sounds now and I wonder why we went on as long as we did. So this Memorial Day weekend, instead of pulling off the pool cover, vacuuming up hundreds of tadpoles, and pouring in pounds and pounds of chlorine and stabilizer to get our pool ready for the summer, we'll be waiting for equipment to show up to begin breaking up the concrete and filling in our pool. It feels rather sad because it's yet another reminder that an era of our life here is coming to an end. Our youngest five children have grown up here, and their memories of summer are spattered with learning to swim, diving for toys, swimming until their teeth chatter from the 66 degree water temperature in early June, and eating popsicles around the pool. Our summers will be different.
But there is a silver lining to this final chapter of my tale: I have big plans for that nice flat area on this side of the mountain. Once it's all filled in, and it's covered in thick, green grass, I have my eye on some canopies, outdoor tables and Adirondack chairs, some wonderful fire pits that can also be used for tables, a tiki bar, and fairy lights. I can see some fantastic farm-to-table dinners out there with lots of friends and family gathered together. The moonlight won't be reflecting off the pool anymore, but the stars will be just as bright, and it will be just as peaceful as it has always been.
And I'm trusting that the bats won't find our back yard as enticing as it was before.