DAY 9: Splashdown!

I am so glad I have my priorities right.

Back in 1994, I decided it was time to become one with the property tax rolls.

I found myself a buyer’s broker, a Realtor who would work on my behalf to find the right house for me. He had a short list of what to watch for:

1) Pool.
2) 2-car garage.
3) A 3-bedroom house to go with them.

Don’t laugh! I wanted a pool, and I figured I could manage to work around just about everything else if the pool was right and I had a garage to store all my stuff. A house? I’d have to decorate a house. The pool was definitely the main event.

The problem with having a backyard pool is that it takes a bit of work to keep it up. When I became a proud pool owner, I didn’t have a firm grasp of exactly what “pool maintenance” meant.

But I did have pool-owning friends, so I called one of them and asked what I should do during the cool weeks between December and April, when I wouldn’t be using the pool every day.

I was told to just cover it up and leave it alone till I wanted to use it again. I could manage that.

When I wanted to resume swimming in the balmy Florida clime, I should just throw in the contents of about five 2.5-gallon tubs of chlorine, turn on the pump, and let science run its course for about 24 hours. The chlorine would clean the pool of any nastiness that had grown under the cover. Then I could brush anything clinging to the sides and get right down to enjoying my cement pond.

This was a wildly optimistic approach to summerizing a pool, but I didn’t know it at the time.

On my targeted day, I dutifully carted 12.5 GALLONS of chlorine to the side of the pool and spaced the jugs so I could distribute their contents evenly.  I carefully peeled back the black plastic that had been covering my own personal approach to aquatic therapy for the last couple of months. Oh, yuck. The water was BLACK.

I walked over to the pump and turned it on. Then, as the water in my pool began to churn frantically, I carefully twisted off the cap on the first jug and walked around the pool, pouring the chlorine in as I moved. I repeated this FIVE TIMES before I noticed that my murky, black water seemed to be … jumping.

Water, hell. Tadpoles. I was in the process of killing 950 cubic feet worth of tadpoles that had been hatching over the last few weeks.

Dear God in heaven–I was a mass murderer.

Even if I stopped the pump and scooped till I pooped (you get the idea), these little guys were goners. All that chlorine, remember? And where was I going to put them if I did get them out of there?

Frantic, I shut down the pump and watched helplessly as hundreds, no: thousands! of infant frogs puckered up to the surface, desperately trying to breathe in anything that wasn’t tainted with 12.5 gallons of chlorine.

A few tadpoles that were further along with their developmental milestones managed to plant their tiny webbed feet firmly on the heads of their brethren and leap to the relative safety of dry land.

All for naught. Their insides weren’t as well-formed as their outsides, and they fell, gasping, on my deck.

The carnage was pretty profound. Since the ones that couldn’t get out of the pool were already in frog heaven, I turned the pump back on and proceeded to clean the filter every hour or so, scooping limp little tadpole carcasses into the mass grave that was my garbage can.

I threw a few more jugs of chlorine into the pool to make sure the killing field was sterilized before I decided it was safe to shimmy in and paddle about.

I also made new friends. They told me how to keep the pool from becoming a breeding ground and gave me a better process for making sure my pool was ready when summer arrived.

Two words: pool guy.

As I say, it’s all about priorities …

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About Billie Noakes

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8 Responses to DAY 9: Splashdown!

  1. Alana says:

    Someone I used to work with, who lived a while in North Carolina, told us a story of her experience in killing a nest of ants who had taken up residence inside her front door. I thought that was bad but you have her beat.
    I’ll never think of a swimming pool in the same way again. And no, I don’t have one. Never had. And now, never will.

  2. Tia says:

    Too funny! Thankfully my parents had a pool when I was a teenager (we moved a lot, so we were able to leave this experiment behind after about two years), and I saw all the work, especially since a lot of it became chores for me. I knew I’d always pay to have a pool membership. But, then again, you did mention a pool guy…

  3. Pools are great! It’s the preventive maintenance that you have to practice right from the start. Now, every time those frogs start “singing” to each other, I run outside and jump in the pool and scare the living daylights out of them. Frustrates the poor frogs, but keeps the pool egg-free.

  4. You’re right–it’s not fun when it’s a chore. Much more fun to glance out the sliders and watch someone else’s muscles rippling in the heat .

  5. Katy M says:

    Oh, dear! After 2 years in Florida, I can just imagine this happening.
    Glad you have new friends who can steer you right, or at least recommend a great pool guy!

  6. Julie says:

    Pool maintenance is the bane of our existence at this house. I don’t want to tell you want kind of pond scum we’ve grown — we have teens who go boating, then put that suit in our pool and ta-da! Every summer we go offline for a few weeks to fight mustard algae. And it’s always the hottest days of the summer, when a pool would be really useful.

  7. Tess says:

    Oh that is hilarious! I just know those little tadpoles are up in froggy heaven and they totally forgive you. Just remember, you saved them from being lunch for any grass snakes in your yard, a much more painful death!

  8. Pingback: DAY 23: Trickle Down “ewyewww”conomics | Billie Noakes

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