We grew up swimming
in farm ponds.
At the Tonkawa city pool,
we took swim lessons,
but when it came to swimming
at home,
Mom and Dad
would cinch so tightly around us
those bright orange life jackets,
the things would ride up
against our chins,
and then they’d pitch us into the water.
Farm pond water is not clear;
it’s brown
and, by this time of the summer,
swimming with tiny particles of algae—
too murky
to see anybody below the surface.
So we wore those orange jackets
in the pond for years.
We knew there were snakes
and turtles
but our parents told us we were bigger
and they wouldn’t hurt us.
And they never did.
(We don’t have poisonous water snakes
and Dad removed any snapping turtles
he saw.)
We did get nibbled by fish
and one summer, or maybe more,
Mom had to pull leaches off  our backs
after we swam.
The only constant thing
we were a bit uncomfortable with
was a thick layer of gooshy mud
on the bottom.
Nevertheless,
on those hot Oklahoma summer days
we headed for the pond
(and even the cool mud felt good.)
There are many, many, many
wonderful memories of swimming in the pond—
though, in recent years,
pond swimming hasn’t been as much fun.
Farm ponds have a life-span
and this was sixty-year-old one
had silted in over the years
until it was very shallow.
With last year’s drought,
it went dry.
Our neighbor spent several months
last year pushing dirt with his bulldozer
to rebuild the dam
and make a better drainage system
into it from the pasture runoff.
The pond will never be as deep
as it was in its youth,
but it is definitely swimmable
and the weather now calls us
into the pond.
Family and guests
are enjoying it
immensely.

Last weekend,
Ann’s son Ben and his wife Abby
and their friends Reed and Diana
were home.
They hung a rope swing
on a tree
alongside the newest, deepest
part of the pond
and spent hours
perfecting their splash.
We also had
a cardboard boat regatta,
which kept some of us cooler
than others.
And we swam—
every one of those triple-digit days—
for hours.