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VALLEY MUSINGS: Finding my way into the water again

Donna Thompson
Sentinel columnist
Posted 7/24/22

Something unusual happened during the picnic for our church choir. I brought along a swimsuit and towel and actually used them.

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VALLEY MUSINGS: Finding my way into the water again

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Something unusual happened during the picnic for our church choir.

I brought along a swimsuit and towel and actually used them.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve carried my swimsuit and beach towel to an event and wound up bringing them home just as dry as when I put them in the car.

When we were kids, my next-younger sister and I wanted to be in the water every time we were near a lake or a pool. We weren’t the quickest studies at learning to swim - I spent my first round of beginner lessons with one foot planted firmly on the bottom of the pool - but somehow we eventually learned and spent hot summer afternoons at the local pool, braved the chilly waters of Adirondack lakes, and viewed swimming as a highlight of our trips to New Jersey to visit relatives.

I’m not sure when our enthusiasm began to wane, but in recent years I, at least, have rarely made it into the water.

A recent example was a family gathering at my niece’s home in Oneida. A great-niece and her husband were visiting from Florida with the two daughters they had adopted. There’s a pool in the backyard at my niece’s house and I brought along my swimsuit.

My niece showed us the stenciling she had recently completed in her bedroom and the round tables her husband had made for the pool building where we’d be gathering. 

Soon more guests began arriving and there was food to tend to and people to greet.

The younger of the two little guests of honor clung to her dad at first, while the older one wanted to know how all these people were related to her.

The little girls were soon happily splashing around in the pool, along with other kids and a few adults.

I never made it in. I hated to break away from the visiting to pull on a bathing suit. Besides, the meal would be ready soon.

Dark clouds moved in, followed by rain, which chased everyone into the pool house. The hamburgers, sausage and hot dogs were ready by then, so we filled our plates and found places to sit and eat.

We passed around enlarged copies of a group photo from a long-ago Memorial Day picnic. My great-niece from Florida was a baby at the time it was taken.

“Where am I?” the older of her two little girls asked.

The rain, eating and visiting continued into the evening. Finally, a few at a time, we headed for our vehicles. Once again, my swimsuit and towel went back into the closet, unused.

When our pastor offered to host our choir picnic on a recent Sunday afternoon, she encouraged us to bring swimsuits, along with dishes to share. I made a broccoli salad and my sister put together a pie with raspberries, blackcaps and rhubarb - some from the freezer and some fresh off bushes and plants.

The chicken was going onto the grill when we arrived and we went outside to see the pool and the backyard area. One of our group had worn her swimsuit and was ready to get into the water. Others of us took turns getting into our suits and soon followed. The water felt cool at first, but we were soon acclimated and floated, swam and chatted until the food was ready.

We climbed out, ate and after awhile our cook - the pastor’s husband - got into the pool. I was among several who ventured in for a second chance to swim.

After all, how often does my swimsuit get an opportunity to get wet?

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