Shortly after my husband, Eddie Albert, and I procured our farm, we were coming back from a hot hike around the property and I said, “Wow, wouldn’t a pool be great out here?” Eddie chuckled and dismissed me out of hand. It was just a thought. My mother, Marge, and I had a dream of getting a pool when I was little, but my dad was not having it. I rinsed my face in cold water at the kitchen sink, trying to get my apple cheeks to cool down.
A little while later Eddie and his buddy, who had a gorgeous garden of his own, took a weekend to plan and plant our first garden. It was a sight to behold: organized rows labeled with “lettuce,” “eggplant,” “beans,” etc. But, as I’ve written before, untended gardens are prone to weeds and while we were away from the farm for a couple of weeks, our beautifully planted garden became overrun with weeds and was barely recognizable.
“We’re going to have to get up early to weed that garden tomorrow,” I warned. “Before the heat of the day.” “Yeah, sure,” Eddie Albert replied. Morning came and again I declared, “We’d better get going out there while the ground is still soft and get those weeds out.” “Ok,” he replied, turning a page of the Wall Street Journal.
“I know your game, Tom Sawyer,” I thought. “You’re waiting for me to do it myself and then you will waltz in at the end and tell me what a good job I’ve done. Not this time, pal. I am not weeding that whole garden alone.” And so, I waited. And waited.
Finally, he stirred and sure enough, there we were in the heat of the midday sun, bent over picking weeks. And, just as I had warned, they weren’t coming out. The tops of the weeds would pop off, leaving the roots in place: plink, plink, plink. Under the blazing sun, one by one, the blasted weeds held fast to the earth. Plink, plink … Eddie became more and more frustrated.
Finally, he stood up, arms akimbo looking like an irritated Jolly Green Giant. As the heat seared us both, he wiped his brow and surveyed the situation. “Screw this,” he declared. “Let’s put a pool here.” He threw down his garden gloves and walked away.
And that’s how we came to have a pool at our farm.
It took a few years, but this past summer it finally happened. We have a pool and it is awesome, I must say. I can feel my mother’s approval. She loved the water, even though she didn’t learn to swim until she was in her 50s. She and I would go to my cousin’s above ground pool in the summer where she and her sister, donning those goofy floral bathing caps, would stand in the middle of the pool, just smoothing the water with their fingertips in a circle around them. They chatted about their respective families, their brood of children, and who knows what else. I was busy bobbing up and down nearby, like a seal pup near its mother.
When Marge finally did learn to swim, she had a classic swimming move: the sidestroke. I’ve never seen anyone else do it, but it was the perfect way for a gal to get from one end of the pool to the other without getting her face wet or ruining her coiffed hair. It looked like a move of Esther Williams, the swimming movie star of the 40s whom my mother was said to resemble in her youth. Marge would keep her head above water the whole time and reach one arm forward, then the other, but never turn her body. All she needed was musical accompaniment and maybe some legs kicks it would have been water ballet.
Marge would love this farm pool because she also loved horses. In this pool, she would be able sidestroke over to the edge and watch as mares and foals graze and stroll in the grassy fields below. I can just hear her saying in awe, “Aren’t they beautiful animals?”
One of the last minute additions to the pool project was an outdoor shower. I floated that idea early on and got it shot down … but guess who is wild about the outdoor shower now? Eddie will tell anyone who will listen about how he loves that shower. Can't blame him. There’s something about showering in the out of doors. It’s so refreshing and liberating. And it feels slightly naughty (“I’m naked. Outside!”). Between the pool and the shower, it’s a freaking farm fantasy.
Eddie Albert’s high noon decision a few years back to get a pool at the farm was a good one (as well as the audible call on the shower). And we still do have that garden as well. After working in the garden or going on a hot walk, there’s nothing better than taking a Nestea plunge in that cement pond. But I know that deep down, Eddie’s decision on the pool was all about making this place a gathering spot for family and friends as well as sweetening the pie for The Princesses: Flora, Fauna and Meriwether. It’s all about making this farm more desirable for them as they travel far and wide in their respective lives. Something to keep them coming home, maybe someday with families of their own. I’m not in a hurry for that stage in life, but when it comes, I look forward to teaching the next generation “the smooth,” and the sidestroke, courtesy of Marge/Esther Williams.