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Chatterbox: Bailing out this summer


Last week, we talked about the need to laugh a little now and then. It’s essential to the survival of a healthy mind and body. Laughter and joy literally enhance our immune system. Sadly, there’s not much to laugh about right now in America but, as we said last week, we are allowed to blend our civic duty with some periodic down time.

School’s out, well, virtual school is out. The political and social climate in America is horrendous; nonetheless, especially for the kids, summer’s here. One television commercial states, “The backyard is open.” It’s a great thought because, especially if we’re opting for voluntary quarantine, our yard is all we’ve got this year.

For too many, not so fortunate as to even have a patch of grass and a hose, surviving a steaming summer if public pools stay closed will be a challenge. Let’s hope local parks help by putting some additional sprinklers to encourage social distancing.

Swimming is definitely the axis of summer. Esther Williams reportedly said, “In the water, we’re all thin and 21,” and it’s true. The agility we have when immersed is comparable to absolutely nothing, not even if we could fly. Bobbing around is second nature to most of us. For anyone who enjoys doing laps, (my own personal favorite) a long, clean pool is heaven and so is the feeling of cool water rushing past our face as we mindlessly just swim.

However, it’s far tougher to do than activities like running, biking, or walking. After all, it involves massive amounts of water not easily accessed in the wild, or contained if orchestrated, but the connection between humans and water is wholly and deeply visceral. After all, we are 78 percent water.

Endless laps are most handy at the ocean … any ocean, but can be enjoyed in a lake or on a wonderful river. However, wild water harbors (no pun intended) inherent dangers. In them is the possibility of such impediments as boats, jet skis, sharks – the most infamous and feared sea life – riptides, and jelly fish. How about moray eels? Personally, I know what a woman screaming through a snorkel sounds like when an eel pops out of its hiding spot four feet from her face ... yeah, not saying who, but none of the above is an issue in a wonderful pool.

The largest pool in the world is in a luxury resort in Costa Rica. At nearly 20 acres, it holds 66 million gallons of water … really. I thought it was a dream come true, at over 3,200 feet long and offering a 25-minute average single length, but, sadly, actual swimming isn’t allowed. As the adjacent ocean is so dangerous it’s off limits to all activities, the pool is only for boating and kayaking, supervised water activities, and scuba diving. At 115 feet deep in some areas, this dream pool offers awesome swimming room but definitely not enough breathing room. It’s more a faux ocean than a pool. There are smaller pools nearby for swimming; dream laps, not available.

On a non-essential, simple side note: Real oceans seem to either be trying to ward off some horrible inevitability for me, or just hate me and are into torture. They’ve tried to kill me three times in my life. Once, that involved a shark ... luckily, he was small and on a low-fat diet. Now, if my laps don’t involve chlorine and a stainless steel ladder, I’m out … literally.

We all have different passions and options for summer, from shooting the curl or a backyard oasis, to city fire hydrant sprinkler caps and bubblers in public parks. This summer, regardless of a disheartened population dealing with the darkness of our nation’s current situation, summer comes just the same … the summer of our confinement and, yes, we have a few things to contend with.

It would be great if we could look back to this summer as the summer America harnessed equality for all, forever. Then, we can proceed through life in a real land of the free. So, we should invest some time to create that end. Then, we can share the joy by supporting summer programs for kids as altered, of course, by this thing we’ve tagged “the virus.” Then, we’ll be free to mitigate our constraints and, maybe, find some joy without guilt.

We might throw a shrimp on the barbie, a log in the fire pit, ourselves in the pool, and remember to laugh again, if only for a while.

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