Photo: Anne Lawrence, Backyard pool, March 2021

She’s psyching herself up. Quick breathing, securing the goggles, hopping, sing-song chants, ready? It’s the first swim of the season. She’s going under one last time. Her lips are turning blue; I’ve told her she has to get out soon.

It’s an above-ground pool that we built last Mother’s Day. We looked after it best we could over the seasons. Last month during the Texas freeze, the surface froze solid and the filtration tubes cracked after everything thawed out, but we fixed the broken parts and it’s perfectly serviceable for another season.

The pool is magical. Only 15-feet across and 3-feet deep, it’s enough to push off and surge to the other end, enough to crawl across the bottom on fingertips and whirl in swirls and circles, enough to splash and float and have epic battles. The pool pairs well with snacks, salty or sweet; popsicles are best. Crocodiles, mermaids, turtles, these are the animals to pretend.

We tell stories, make-believe and real. Trying out voices, experimenting with plot twists, and crafting small moments; we sketch out the story together. Excitedly, we talk about the latest episode of Dr. Who or the part of a book we recently read — what will happen next? Countless hours were spent last summer standing or lounging in the pool trying to keep a book dry. I would read aloud, while she would play in the water, within hearing range. We moved through books, like cans of sunscreen. We were always almost at the end.

Standing by the pool today, I felt a tug on my memory, something about time travel. Was it remembering chasing the shade while reading Diana Wynne Jones’ Time City or my daughter explaining the plot surprises and reveals of Castrovalva, a multi-part classic 1982 Dr. Who? Or was it the deja vu that comes with time repeating, finding the rhyme in a second spring with our pool still intact. We’ve just started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and have a new stack of books to keep dry. Here’s hoping for more sunny days coming soon so we can all enjoy the water, not just the polar bear in the group. Engage.

Photo: Anne Lawrence, Backyard Pool, March 2021

Writer, researcher, observer