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One Last Swim with the Frogs

Yesterday, for the second day in a row, we swam in our neighbor’s pool.

We have an agreement with the neighbors. Each time they go out of town for the weekend, we watch their dogs and swim in their pool. Mason lets the dogs out a couple of times a day and feeds and waters them. While he does that, Susan, Morgan and I swim. Occasionally, the dogs swim, too. Mason also used to swim but now he says he doesn’t like the way the pool’s salt water makes his hair feel. Don’t feel too bad for him; he’s the only one that gets paid money in this arrangement. The rest of us get paid in pool and dog-petting time.

It’s really not warm enough to swim yet, but the neighbors are moving. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., new owners close on the house. The neighbors are out of town this weekend, and Morgan isn’t about to miss out on the opportunity.

Normally the pool is in immaculate condition, and from twenty feet away it still looks great, but the closer you get the more it looks like a pool that belongs to somebody who is not about to own it next week. There’s a thin layer of algae on the white plastic steps that lead down into the water. A few old leaves have settled on the bottom of the pool and a few more float across the surface along with ladybugs, little black beetles, and a dozen baby frogs.

The frogs are tiny — you could fit three of them on a single penny — and everywhere. They’re so small you might not notice them at all, but once you see one, you’ll see ten. In the pool’s water you might mistake them for a small black bug, but their long frog legs, propelling them around the pool, make them easy to spot. Morgan rescues a handful of them and places them outside the pool. Within a few minutes they have all jumped back in, except for one, who keeps rolling over onto his back and kicking his legs up in the air. I fear that one doesn’t have long for this earth. Morgan places one of the microscopic frogs on Susan’s shoulder, where it rides for a long time. Eventually, Susan takes a handful of baby frogs over to the pond and lets them go.

The water is so cold that when I got in my body involuntarily jerked and tried to get back out. I’m instantly reminded of the Titanic museum we visited, where visitors were encouraged to stick their hand in a bucket of cold water to see how cold the ocean felt that night to passengers. Now I feel like I’ve lived it. Each time I move, the cold water hits a new part of my body.

The frogs don’t seem to mind the temperature of the water, and neither does Morgan. My teeth chatter as Morgan passes me, doing the backstroke. “Are you ready to get out yet?” I ask, but I know the answer. She won’t be ready to get out for half an hour, because this is our last weekend to swim in the pool, and even if the pool contained a thousand frogs and piles of ice cubes, she would be in there.

Normally there are basketballs and plastic diving rings to play with, and patio furniture to sit on when we get out of the pool, but everything has been packed up. Today it’s just us and the frogs, having one last swim.

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