Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer’s Submerged Treasure

When I was a kid, my friends and I spent every summer up at the neighborhood pool. We’d get up in the morning, swim till we went home for lunch, and then go back. I can remember being so sore-eyed and sunburned and freckled and worn out that I’d go home and fall asleep in the afternoons on top of my bedspread and a tangle of wet, chlorine-bleached hair.

Now my kids are involved with our subdivision’s swim team. When we first got started, my then four-year-old struggled down his lane looking more like he was drowning than swimming. I had to fight the urge to jump in and save him with each bob of his little head.

He grew up to be a lifeguard as a teenager and now runs that same swim team as head coach.

A few years later my daughter decided she wanted to be on the team because her big brother was. You had to be able to swim the length of the pool in order to join. So with her characteristic, iron-willed determination crammed into a preschool body, she plunged in and swam the fastest, funniest little dog paddle I’ve ever seen. Now also a teenaged lifeguard, she seems to slip through the pool with the long-legged ease of a water nymph.

Swim meets last a long, long time. So long that my survival depended on learning to love it all—from the bullhorn to the banners to the warm, heavy honeysuckle musk of sultry summer night air.

But here’s my little secret: it’s the properties of pool water that I really love. It’s weird, I know, but I am mesmerized by the shifting shimmers of color, the shivers of light, the sparkle of a silver splash. I was horrible as a stroke judge. Everything was okay in the beginning of those Monday night meets when I could remain transfixed by the fluidity of movement. But as the sky darkened, I had to fight the hypnotic draw of the movement of fluid instead.

Because the most exotic magic happens at night when the sky turns to cobalt and the pool lights up in that molten-turquoise glow with streams of golden bubbles. Oh, those bubbles! Silver in the day but gold at night—there and then gone, a precious treasure, alchemy of air, champagne of summer nights.

Art, aching to be born, will find a way! ~Karen Greene


  1. hehe. I'm quoted! I love the last two paragraphs of this post - so magical and poetic. ~ K

  2. Thanks again, Karen, for letting me quote you! Hope I got the name right and everything. I'd written it before reading your wonderful post on light and shadow, but I thought it was funny that we were sort of thinking along similar lines!

  3. This sounds like my fascination with watching a flickering camp fire or the ocean at sundown. WOW!

  4. I'm thrilled to be quoted! I even posted a link to your blog on my FB.

  5. Hey Linda--I love those, too, when I get to see them!!

  6. Tammy,
    You always write so poetically. I was mesmerized by your words, I was reliving your childhood swim days, and seeing the pool lights on at night, etc. The only thing you didn't mention that I love about pools....the "aroma" of chlorine!!! Really, I do!! :D

  7. Thanks, Bec! Funny, but I tried to get in about the chlorine smell (which I love, too), but I couldn't figure out how to make it sound right. That uber-clean smell sort of does and doesn't go with everything else...you know? (How poetic was THAT?!)

  8. Your post brought back great memories! My kids did swim team, too. It was such fun. The best job was being timer with all the excitement of watching for that first finger touch!


  9. Yes! Timer is best. And I've done ALL of them!


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