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Pool Envy

You have a pool?"

Friends without a pool say it like they've discovered your secret cabana in the Bahamas. Former pool owners say it with a mischievous twinkle.

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In an abstract way, swimming pools are heavenly. At last count, 7.7 million Americans have taken the pool-ownership plunge - up 14 percent in just the past year.

We eagerly joined this aquatic club last year, when we moved into a house with an existing vinyl-swathed hole in the ground.

Our daughters were delighted - until we pulled the cover off in April. "Yuck," said one, peering into the primordial, algal chasm.

"We might find frogs," my younger daughter added hopefully. Or a mutated life form, I thought.

With doe-eyed expectation, they asked, "You can fix it, can't you Daddy?"

Yes, I could have called in a professional. But no self-respecting handyman would pay cash money for some flip-flop-shod kid to purify his pool. This isn't rocket science. We're talking dirty water.

Ah, hubris.

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After several hundred dollars worth of chlorine (liquid and powder), high-octane algae treatments, pH booster, pH depressor, a new filter pump, and countless counseling sessions with various pool experts, our backyard financial abyss grudgingly went from slime green to milky white.

Two days before the kids returned to school, at precisely 11:13 a.m., my PhD in Hydro Chemistry was completed: We saw the bottom.

The whole family gathered, arm-in-arm, as if standing at the cusp of the Grand Canyon, to savor the view - just as the first leaves of autumn fluttered into our pristine pool.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at

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