Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 9.29.17
Stanstead, Quebec


Bye-bye pool

We warned the children we were getting rid of the swimming pool. I swear we warned them. Maybe they didn't believe us, thinking it was one of our idle threats, like "We're going to move to the country!" or "We're going to organize the yogurt containers under the sink!"

But we did get rid of the pool. We tore it down on Saturday, an unseasonably hot day when, ironically, we really could have used a swim.

For some time now, our pool had been showing signs of aging -- extensive stains, sliminess, leaking -- which, coincidentally are identical to my own signs of aging, not to mention that hardly anyone frolics around me half-naked anymore either.

The pool had lost its will to live, and I had lost my will to vacuum it. In fact, someone asked me this week, "When did you decide to get rid of the pool?" I told her, "About five years ago." "Oh, when did Debbie decide to get rid of it?" Well, that was this summer. "If we can't find the leak, we should get rid of it," she said. As the person who maintained it the most and used it the least (water is wet), this was music to my ears.

I'm positive we mentioned this possibility to the kids.

We never did figure out how it was losing water, and with its years of usefulness (again like me) past, we decided to pull the plug.

I started draining it last week and by Saturday was ready to dismantle. There was still three feet of water in it, but I figured that would drain as I worked. First thing was tools. Correction: first thing was borrow tools. I called Steve. Along with Steve's tools, I got Steve. "I'll come over and help, if you don't mind," he said. "I like taking things apart." A man after my own heart; destroying things: what can go wrong?

While the water drained, we set to work unscrewing the aluminum rim of the pool, then the braces. Soon our good neighbours Clint and Bonnie came over to assist. It was a regular pool party. We unhitched the lip of the liner and began rolling away the siding. By then, there was still about two feet of water trapped in the bowl of the liner. Nothing that a good stab with a crowbar couldn't fix.

As the water flooded into the neighbours' yard, we began tearing at the liner and ripping out the pipes like we were polystyrene-starved savages. Soon there was nothing left but a basin of sandy water in the middle of our lawn.

I took a photograph and posted it on Instagram. "Low tide. #byebyepool," I wrote.

A few minutes later, Abby, our youngest, texted from work: "What the damn hell!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!"

"It was time," I wrote back. She responded with a sad emoji.

Soon the other children chimed in.

"No way," Katie wrote from Ottawa.

"What!?" Emily piped up from Montreal.

"WTF," said James with a GIF from North Bay.

"Wow!!!" commented former neighbour kid Sean from PEI.

Nothing like a bit of yard renos to bring the family and pseudo-family together.

Having gone through the denial phase ("I used the pool all the time!" Abby argued, inaccurately) and anger phase ("I'm still not happy about this decision": Abby again), the children quickly moved on to the bargaining phase, namely what were we going to put there.

"A hot tub!" suggested Abby. "An infinity pool! A trampoline!"

"How about grass?" I suggested.

"Lame," James texted.

"Maybe horseshoe pits?" I suggested.

"Better than nothing," he replied.

"You don't have to mow around nothing," I noted.

As with getting rid of the cable no one watched and the land line no one called, the children have jumped right into the acceptance phase. Not that they have a choice. The pool is gone. The last of the water has seeped into the ground and there's nothing back there but a vast circle filled with sand.

I'll admit there's a certain bittersweetness to this, as with any passing. I think in particular of all the pool parties, the cheering and splashing, the floaties and noodles. This marks another stage of the children growing up and moving on.

The cats, however, are here to stay, and I see them eyeing that great big circle of sand in the back yard. They think they've gone to heaven.