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Just a Simple Pool
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Just a Simple Pool

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LBF Logo 5 1447x616 1Eric Herman

Moving from Washington State to sunny Palm Springs Calif., was a dramatic transition to say the least.Back in March, my wife and I went from one of the lushest and wettest places in the U.S. to one of the most barren and dry – and one of the hottest. Don’t get me wrong, our new hometown is beautiful in all sorts of ways. We moved into a swanky 10-unit mid-century modern apartment complex built in the early 60s. It’s all nestled the heart of Palm’s Springs downtown district, an area chalk full of great restaurants, boutique businesses of all kinds, lavish resorts, golf courses and vintage celebrity homes.

While we do enjoy the environment very much, it is hot, very hot. As summer takes hold, triple-digit temps are the norm, sometimes flirting with the 120 mark. That’s why this is a place where pools are not just a luxury, but an utter necessity. some estimates Palm Springs has a pool for every six people. Although no one actually dies because they don’t have a pool here, some days you feel like you could. (Certainly, a powerful AC system is critical, but who likes to stay inside all the time?)

7 8 20LBFimageWhen we moved here, we originally thought our apartment would be a temporary stop as we shopped for a house in the area, but events of the past few months put our plans on hold and as it’s turned out, we may be apartment dwellers for longer than we thought. One of the reasons we’re at peace with is our forestalled plans is because about ten steps from our front door is a modest classic kidney-shaped swimming pool.

Based on what the property manager told me, it was installed nearly 60 years ago when the property was first built. It’s almost certainly been re-plastered, maybe more than once and it has some updated equipment. While it does show wear and tear in the form of stained plaster, a few missing tiles and rusted handrails, it’s still a beautiful little vessel with decent water quality.

Knowing a thing or two about pools, I checked out the equipment vault to find two variable-speed pumps, a large sand filter that looks like it might be the original and a chlorine tablet feeder. There’s a separate spa with its own system, which no one uses right now because the heater needs to be replaced. Despite its age, this simple vintage little pool has become my sanctuary.


Almost everyday when I wrap up my working hours, I head straight to the pool. I step off the coping into the deep end and let my aging bones descend into the water. I swim, tread water, float and generally allow my tattered nerves to unwind.

It’s true what proponents of the aquatic lifestyle say, simply immersing your body changes the way you feel. These days with all of the stress and uncertainty of “current events” the water serves as a healthful escape. When I’m floating in the pool, I can feel my body re-calibrate and relax, my breathing slows and my lower back pain vanishes. The pool is shaded in the afternoon and so far has remained reasonably cool, offering a welcome respite from the searing desert heat.

I’m struck by the fact that while pools, spas and other watershapes have taken on wildly creative designs over the past three decades, all that’s really necessary to experience the joy of immersion is a simple, well-maintained vessel. When you look at this pool, it appears obsolete, almost like something from a time capsule. There are no associated water features, fancy materials, fire elements or any other kind of adornment. It’s as simple as can be, but as it turns out, that’s quite enough, at least it is for me.

In some ways, our newfound relationship with this little pool is a classic example of scarcity creating demand. There are no significant natural bodies of water in this area, so pools are the only places to take a dip. Both pool construction and independent pool service has long been a mainstay of the local economy and for many of the high-end resort properties, their pool areas are major selling points, and the same is true of houses, which command higher asking prices when they have a pool.

Here in these humble digs, the pool is just as important. Modest though it may be, for six decades that simple body of water has provided comfort, relief and I dare say, happiness to countless overheated souls. For my part, it’s every bit as essential now as the day it was first filled.

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