As a child, summertime was hardly summer if water wasn't involved in some way. My father was a little afraid of water. I've no idea why but he was, so we were banned from going down river with Granddaddy when he fished in the river swamp. He also wasn't keen on our going into the swimming pool, either. Since I've pretty much spent all my life in the country not going to the swimming pool was far more common than going.
There were other substitutes for the elusive pools in our lives like getting wet under the water hose or running through the sprinkler, all of which suited us admirably. Not something we got to do nearly often enough because when you live in the country the pump runs on electricity and wells have a nasty habit of running dry. Water was to be conserved...But I must say that aside from Granny I've never known but one other who had a well run dry. Granny's wells were generally near the surface hence the running dry (you pay per foot for the drilling). As well, she watered the cows daily so there was already a tax upon her well and electric bill that most didn't have to worry over.
The other thing about running under hoses that draw on well water was that they tended to be icy. I thought this was just a faulty childhood memory until I recalled the hot summer days when Katie was little and she'd come indoors blue with cold, shivering mightily after playing under our hose despite it's being 100F outdoors. I was more liberal with the outdoor use of water here than Granny had been, allowing a homemade slip and slide as well as sprinklers. I just heard this week that a small amount of soap (baby shampoo for instance so it doesn't sting eyes) is what makes a slip n slide such a slippery surface. I've stored that for future knowledge.
There was never a kiddy pool in my life but Granny did have a 12 inch deep pool at one time that she tucked under the pine trees and there we happily played under her watchful eye one summer. I provided all of my children with small pools. Amie was my first child and she had one of those formed plastic pools you can purchase at most dollar stores. I recall hearing her screaming at the top of her lungs one day when I'd run into the house to fetch a cool drink...I ran outdoors thinking surely she must be drowning...No...It was the neighbor's pet pig who had decided to join her! It was our first and last visit from the swimming pig!
Last year with Josh here, Bess and I decided he should have a pool. He loved it. I recall him going out in the early mornings, still dressed in his pajamas. We were meant to be feeding the cat and dog, but Josh had three great loves last year. One was going up and down steps, preferably unassisted. The other was walking the entire place and I mean the ENTIRE round of the driveways which totaled about 1/2 mile altogether. The last was his pool. If I wasn't quick enough, and heavens help me, I never was!, he would step right over into that pool and sit down and enjoy himself mightily dipping his old plastic cups into the water and pouring them out. Sam was telling us just yesterday how very much he is enjoying the larger pool his Gammy provided for him for his birthday this year.
Taylor too loves her water play. Katie bought her a kiddie pool last year and this year she has a wonderful water table that sits on her back deck.
We were mostly denied pools in my childhood. But at one time we had a baby sitter who took us, along with her children to the pool in Ft. Valley. I had no idea there was a municipal pool there. We couldn't swim and having inherited a bit of Daddy's natural fear of the water, we steered clear of it. Mostly I remember the aroma of suntan lotion and the neopolitan coconut bars we used to have as a treat.
Granny decided the pool was as good a place as any to take us, grand entertainment for seven grandchildren. She paid for our swimming lessons at a municipal pool in the town where my cousins lived. Swimming lessons at least decreased Daddy's fears for us. I won't say we swam like fish. My saving grace was learning that I floated. But it did mean hours of fun for us...and appetites that were all out of proportion to our size. We spent two or three summers going there and then Granny got a membership to the 'country club' here in Reynolds which isn't nearly so grand as it might sound. It was just an 8 x 10 in ground pool fed by an artesian spring and it was soon discovered the water was contaminated by something that gave fierce ear infections. Ugh. The club house was about the same size as the pool with a row of outdoor toilets and a 9 hole golf course that looked like what it had been once upon a time, a cow pasture. Not grand at all!
Daddy never ever chose a hotel with a swimming pool in all the years we vacationed. We might, if really lucky, acquire a small cabin next to a rocky creek of icy water.
We did rent a cabin at a place called Track Rock where ancient Indians had inscribed petroglyphs in soapstone rocks hundreds of years ago. There was a small pond there near our cabin and we were ecstatic when Daddy decided we would go into the pond. The owner assured him that he could stand up and never have his head underwater. What the owner didn't share was that he'd stocked the pond with a load of fish he meant to raise. I shall never forget the scream that reverberated across the hills when the first fish came up to Daddy and tested his leg to see what it was. He screamed all the way right back out of that pond. We children laughed so hard we got cramps and were forced to get out of the pond. That is my sole memory of ever being near water with my Daddy.
The absolute best water in the world however, was free. It wasn't deep but it was readily available to us. It was the creek that runs across this property here, now on my brother's side of the place. It really wasn't much more than a ditch in width in most places but the water ran cool and clear and shin deep through it. We children soon found a wide place between two fields where the cows had worn down the sides of the banks and created a wider pool.
There we caught tadpoles in spring and there we played in summer. One memorable summer we went to work damming the creek, which was no easy task as we could find only small rocks. We soon worked out a system of using stones, limbs and mud. We managed eventually to get the water just shy of our knees which was really deep enough for children to sit and splash at least for one afternoon. Our dam building skills were poor and eroded overnight but it kept us occupied many days of our stay here on the place which no doubt was a huge relief to Granny who must have found herself overwhelmed at times with seven grandchildren getting into mischief. And we were very content to start fresh each day with our dam so we were well occupied and only visited the house for lunch and dinner.
For years the creek here ran dry, so my children never knew it's great pleasures and that is much to my regret but one year, when we had had plenty of rain, my brother reported that it was again flowing nicely and it was his pleasure to listen to running water from the deck of his home which he'd built near our old play area.
I think, truly that the summer we went to the mountains for a vacation the most disappointing part of mine and John's stay was that the creek, clearly pictured in the photo display of the cabin we'd rented was actually photographed from a cabin a good deal nearer the creek than the cabin we'd rented. I couldn't even hear the trickle of the water from our perch high on the hill side. Nor was there a clear path down to the creek. I was mighty disappointed. I did finally manage to go down that snaky muddy trail to the creek but found the banks far too steep to allow me to go down into the cool amber water. It was however, a triumph to have gone down that hill and back up it again because it was quite steep and I was out.of.shape.
It's no secret that even yet, we spend most of our vacations at the beach, within view of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and I personally love nothing better than to go down to that beach and play in the water or walk along the surf. I might be in my fifties, but I'm still a child when it comes to summer and water play.