My husband and I and our two children have been swimming at our local pond since 1994. The pond, three-quarters of a mile in circumference and rated the second cleanest in the state, has two adjacent beaches, one for town residents, the other for private members. It is surrounded by a rolling hillside of deciduous trees and evergreens, all protected land. Not a single house is visible.
For years, 11 to be exact, we were members of the town beach, with its playground, four floats, roped-off shallows for swimming, outdoor shower and updated bathrooms. A snack truck arrived daily with the usual fare. Lifeguards patrolled the water with loud whistles and a bullhorn. The park closed at 7, but every afternoon, beginning around 4:30, the lifeguards raked the sand with a tractor that blew dust everywhere, hurrying lingerers out and tamping down any pleasant impressions of the day.
While our children were toddlers, the town beach served its purpose adequately. They learned to swim as effortlessly as the sunnies that nibbled their legs, built sand castles and dams, made friends on the trapeze bar, raced each other to the float and ran to the arriving truck when it rang its bell. A throng of mothers seemed impervious to the endless games of Marco Polo. I was not one of them. In fact, I couldn’t wait for those days to end.
When my husband joined me after work, we’d look longingly at the private beach next to us. They had no snack bar, no swings, no running water, no electricity. There was one float and no lifeguard. Members could swim out as far as they pleased—a quarter-mile across, if they wished. We wanted to be among them, but how? We made inquiries and were told the waiting list was long. Members lived as far away as Anchorage and never retired. We resigned ourselves to dealing with the confines of the public domain.
Then in spring 2005, my husband saw an ad for a local summer soccer camp. He advised our son, who was by then 14 and had been playing soccer for years, to call the coach and ask for a job. Turns out the coach was on the board of the private beach association and the club was looking for new members. Bingo! My son got a job and we got a membership.
Now in our eighth year at the pond, the thrill of swimming unencumbered, where we want and when we want, has not waned. To us, it is a veritable Garden of Eden, a huge bowl above which the sky is a changing panorama. Here’s some of the wildlife we see, hear and swim with on a regular basis.