Last Sunday, in a brief spurt of feeling well, I went swimming. The water was wonderful, a little cool but clean and with the hot sun beating down, it felt lovely, a perfect swimming day. Zelda, of course, was playing with her basketball, so I’d swim to the side of the pool and throw it for her, and then swim some more. None of that is anything exceptional.
But Macie–Macie, who hates the water!–really wanted to play, too. She’d splash into the top step of the pool and bounce straight out again. For most of August, she’s watched me bring Bartleby into the pool with mild horror in her eyes. That day, it was more like speculation.
Little digression: I want Bartleby to be comfortable in the water–it’s safer, obviously–so most days when I swim, I scoop him up, bring him into the water, hold him loosely, let him relax, then have him half swim, half be supported to the steps when he’s ready to get out. He’s gone from being resistant, growling and trying to get away from me, to amenable and tolerant, if not enthusiastic. Given that he’s got a ton of black fur, I think hanging out outside with us in the Florida heat is probably a lot pleasanter when he’s wet, anyway.
On this day, I brought him in, then let him out, and apparently that was the cue Macie needed. The water–the horrible, horrible water–couldn’t be that bad if Bartleby was okay with it. So three or four times, she made it to the second step, then turned and fled and raced around the backyard as if she were being chased by demons. On the fourth time, she actually made it to the third step. Her entire head went under and when it came up, her eyes were so wide she reminded me of a cartoon character, with eyes popping out of her head. She immediately turned around, swam the step back to the stairs, and that was it–she wanted to go inside after that.
Ten minutes later, I was floating in the water, face up to the sun, eyes closed, when I bumped into something. It took me a minute to realize that Bartleby was swimming in circles around me. It’s the first time he’s ever come into the pool by himself.
The irony is that it was cool this morning when I was walking Zelda, and the love bugs–these atrociously maddening Florida bugs that swarm in late fall and late August–were out. Lovebugs are harmless but during their mating seasons, they get everywhere, and then die. You can wind up with four or five of them crawling on you at once if you try to sit outside and their bodies stack up on the tables, by the doors, in the pool, everywhere. Completely harmless, but oh, so gross. Anyway, both those things–cool weather and lovebugs–mean that swimming season is probably over or close to it. The dogs might have tried swimming on the very last day of swimming until next spring.
That somehow feels poignant to me. There are times when everything seems possible, but this year, fall feels like endings and lost opportunities and great moments already gone.