When we bought our first “big” house (one with more than two bedrooms), it came with an in-ground pool. We couldn’t believe our luck. We could actually afford this? Really? It was true. So we jumped on it, and spent four years with an amazing luxury in our yard.
Yes, it cost us some money—about $300 a year to get someone
to open and close it, and each year we had to shell out on average $300 to
repair or replace some piece of equipment or other. Ultimately we had to have
the pool deck replaced, and the pool resurfaced, but honestly I don’t think if
you added up those expenses, plus the cost of the chemicals (which was
minimal), it would add up to more than we would have spent on a pool
membership, with the club house minimums and dues that involves. Plus it was
ours all to ourselves, was open from whenever we wanted to whenever we wanted
(not Memorial Day to Labor Day), and available 24x7. The pleasure far
outweighed the pain.
There was, however, one experience we had with this pool
that a pool membership would have spared us. Drowned chipmunks.
Overhanging the pool deck was a mulberry tree. All spring,
summer, and fall, as the mulberries ripened, they fell on the pool deck. They’d
sit in the hot sun, and ferment. They’d become boozy, high octane berries. Chipmunks
like mulberries and they weigh about 3 ounces each, so they have the alcohol
tolerance of a 19 year old sorority girl. They’d eat some berries, and be half
in the bag, staggering around the pool deck.
The stages of drunk must be slightly different for chipmunks
than for humans. It’s my experience that thirst doesn’t really hit until the
alcohol wears off, and it’s part of the hangover stage. Evidently chipmunks get
thirsty right away. These stupid chipmunks would lurch over to the pool and try
to get a drink of water. The only problem was the level of the water they were trying to
drink was about 6 millimeters further down from the lip of the pool edge than
the length of the average chipmunk. You probably don’t need me to spell out the
result of almost every single one of these attempts.
Another fact about chipmunks is they can’t swim.
Squirrels can—one jumped in and went for a dip while I was sitting out there
one day, and I chased that little asshole right out. But chipmunks are hopeless
and pretty much drop like sinkers as soon as they hit the water. Chipmunks have
a lung capacity of about ¼ of a teaspoon, so they also drown almost instantly.
We were constantly hauling drowned drunken chipmunks out of our pool.
I hope you’re curious about what we did with the corpses,
because you’re going to find out. The house behind us was empty—the people who
lived in it moved out about two weeks after we moved in (a coincidence? I don’t
know) so the yard was overgrown with ivy and other vines. We would scoop the
chipmunks out of the pool with the long handled skimmer, and using it as a sort
of catapult, fling them over the fence into all that brush.
Just about the time we were moving out, someone started
renovating that house behind us. They started with the house itself, and hadn’t
gotten to the yard before we moved to the other side of the country, so I have
no idea when they may have discovered the chipmunk mass grave at the far edge
of their property, nor what they concluded when they did. I myself would probably
have assumed it was some kind of Jonestown/Heaven’s Gate scenario, but with
chipmunks. I’m also not sure what the people who bought our house are doing
with the drowned chipmunks now since our disposal option is not available to
them. Because I’m quite sure those stupid chipmunks are still getting shitfaced
on fermented mulberries and drowning in that pool.