By Stephanie Cavanaugh
THERE’S A SHALLOW swimming pool, just shy of the size of a Lilliputian soccer field, in Yards Park, the waterfront green space between the Washington Navy Yard and Nats Stadium, about half a mile from Washington DC’s Capitol Hill. There’s a waterfall you can duck behind, a splash pad and fountains, and it’s surrounded by lawns, condos, cafes, a soaring bridge, curving walkways and peaceful spots to ponder the yachts afloat on the Anacostia River.
Thankfully overlooked by the hordes hungry for the tinsel and ruckus of Washington Harbour, around the bend on the Potomac River, it’s a fine spot to picnic on a hot summer night, with a grassy slope for a blanket. The pool is packed with squealing, splashing kids and laughing parents.
The Prince wades with grandbaby Wes, while our big Baby and I furtively sip piña coladas (virgins, we’ll say, if anyone asks), and set out brie and ham and French bread and so forth.
Wheeling the grandbaby and his stroller back home, we pass a woman sitting on her tiny patio, rocking to her earbuds beside a tropical -blue three-ring-deep wading pool that was just begging for a dip. It would be a squish getting three adults and a baby in, but in this heat . . . Hand me a margarita and a book, pull the brim of my Panama hat down over my eyes and . . . swimming is really overrated, you know. All that exertion. The only thing good about it is you don’t know you’re sweating.
Anyway, as Baby and the Prince packed the car for home, I hallooooo the woman, interrupting her peace, but it was necessary.
Where did you get that pool? I ask.
At Target, she says. Walmart’s got them too.
A couple of weeks ago. There were plenty, she says, reinserting her earbud.
Oooo ahhh, I thank her and walk away with visions of a backyard wallow dancing in my head.
Last year there were no inflatable pools to be had at any price. The big outdoor public and private pools were all Covid-closed, and it seemed everyone had the same idea of sloshing about in shallow plastic, hoping the dog wouldn’t hop in and puncture one of the inflated rings that make up the sides of the pool. (I don’t believe cats have an interest).
This year there’s a wealth of options and they’re cheap. An inflatable pool big enough for just me runs about $25. For $40 or so you can land a large model that can handle two lounging adults. And they’re amusing to look at, imprinted with watermelons, lemons, palm trees . . .
There was even a chic black-and-white number from Minnidip, which I was leaning toward: It’s so MacKenzie-Childs—but Baby insisted that I require palm trees or something else that smacks of the tropics. So we order That’s Banana Leaves, another Minnidip pattern, and pick it up the following morning at Target.
It’s much larger than we thought, and it’s a Tetris game fitting it in the garden, though it’s easy enough to inflate with our own personal hot air. Both of us fit, stretched out, along with Wes and toys.
When My Prince gets home from wherever he’s wandered off to, I don’t think he’ll be too pleased. He’ll have to walk on water to reach his garage without tramping on my tender new begonias. I’m afraid this won’t end well.
But it’s 94 degrees, they say, and feels like 102, they also say. Oh, the water is so cool. The orange hibiscus has a flower, the white bird of paradise looms in the corner, and the banana-tree leaves flutter.
Baby boots up her music app and sets the phone on a chair . . . Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bob Marley sings.
Shut the eyes. Pretend it’s the Caribbean. In fact, it’s exactly what I would be doing in the Caribbean, minus the sea part. Water’s water if you close your eyes.
This is the life.
For the moment.