If you grow up on a ranch in West Texas, you learn about the finer things in life. You eat oysters (of the mountain variety), you hire full-time lawn service to maintain every acre (some call it grazing cattle), and you even get your own pair of designer muddy jeans for free (it’s a thing, check it out). And of course, dawling, we always had a pool. Granted, the cows thought those livestock tanks were for them, but I believed my dad put them all over the ranch just so us girls could take our pick of swimming location for the day. The water was always ice cold and as pure as it comes, straight from the ground. If we were thirsty, we’d just stick our tongue under the pipe for a gulp of the goodness straight from God to our mouth. I swear, it was better than FIJI or Topo Chico.
That’s how we spent our summers, my mom, sister, and I. With the pickup backed up to a stock tank, pulp fiction in hand, George Strait serenading us from the stereo speakers. No sunscreen allowed—cows don’t really like drinking Oxybenzone. Anytime we had slumber parties of course swimming was on the agenda—followed by rolling in the huge pile of cottonseed. If the tank hadn’t been cleaned out in a while we’d just grab chunks of the moss (picture The Grinch’s snot) and throw it to the ground below. Totally cool. But, not if you tried to do a handstand and came up with it all over your face. Gross.
The tank—I mean pool—pictured here was at my grandparents’ ranch. My aunt freed her pet goldfish in it before going off to college at Texas Tech and no kidding those suckers grew to be a foot long and multiplied like rabbits. All us grandkids loved learning to swim here, racing from side to side and seeing who could catch the most fish with our hands. I’m sure their great-great-great…..you get the point…..grand-fishes are still swimming around in it today.
I think Kevin Bacon is bringing tank swimming back in style. In I Love Dick, a new Amazon series set in Marfa, Texas—another one of my heavens on earth—he ends the pilot episode with a skinny-dip in a tank with a gorgeous view of the mountains. That’s some good living right there.
As I’m writing this I’m trying to remember the last time I swam in a livestock tank. Sure, I’ve done rooftop pools, lazy rivers, hot tubs right off the ski slope, but it’s been far too long since that good old-fashioned, back-to-my-roots dunk in a redneck infinity pool. Good thing summer’s right around the corner.
Loving the journey,