As George Gershwin famously stated in the opening aria for Porgy and Bess, “It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy.” I absolutely love summer in Ohio: fresh sweet corn and tomatoes, sunlight until 9 p.m., lightning bugs, campfires, and best of all, warm days spent swimming with friends.
During my childhood, one of the first rites of passage was the swimming test at the Wixom Quarry. Once a swimmer could swim two lengths of the outside rope, she was allowed to swim in the deep end of the quarry. The deep end had many benefits: the little diving board, the high diving board, and best of all, the raft.
The greatest thing about the raft was its isolation from adult supervision so it was home to many adolescent shenanigans. Always, there were the occasional cannonballs aimed at other swimmers. Also, boys clad in cutoff shorts for swimwear would dive to the bottom and bring up seaweed and snails to throw at the girls. Sometimes while the boys were deep diving, they would “accidentally” unhook the raft from its anchor at the bottom of the quarry. Once the lifeguard finally realized that the raft was drifting farther out, a whistle and raft evacuation would follow. That is the time when the ability to swim two lengths of the quarry came in especially handy.
While fondly recalling the sunny days spent at the Wixom Quarry, I remember an eclectic group of kids being there. At the quarry, we laughed and frolicked together, but once school reconvened, we often circulated in different social circles. Yet on a warm sunny day on the raft, it didn’t matter if were friends during the school year; we were just happy to be together enjoying summer. It seemed as if we were a big rambunctious summertime family.
Fast forward forty years and now I belong to a neighborhood pool in Findlay called Canterbury Club. Sure, there are newer, nicer pools in Findlay, but I’ve stayed at Canterbury for over twenty years because of another summertime family. We are a mashed up collection of folks from different generations, careers, and walks of life. On weekends during the summer, we spend hours together reading magazines, sharing snacks and talking in the pool, but once Labor Day comes, we return back to our separate lives only occasionally crossing paths with each other. We promise to get together, but rarely do. It doesn’t matter though because on then following Memorial Day, we will all be together again, chatting like we had never been apart.
I feel especially blessed to have had the easy summer friendships throughout my life, first at the Wixom Quarry and now at Canterbury Club. Since so much of life is complicated and busy, it is nice to have good friendships that require so little maintenance. I am holding tight onto my Canterbury summertime family and what I wouldn’t give to have just one day back at the Wixom Quarry with that previous summertime family. I’d have to practice my swimming though so I could make it back to shore when the guys unhook the raft!