laura packardDown here, having access to a pool during summer is not only a privilege but a deep and needful must for wellness of being, happiness and overall relief for whatever ever ails you.

See, Dante in his Inferno describes the 7th circle of hell as teeming with rivers of boiling fire, deserts of burning sand, and burning rain that pours from the sky.

In the south, we call this cataclysmic event August.

It’s so hot snakes don’€™t hiss, they yawn; gators sleep it off; birds don’€™t sing, they squawk before plucking your last Cheetos straight out of your hand; and humans don’€™t leave their homes unless it’€™s to drive to another structure packed full of equally cold and manufactured frigid air to just sit and stay awhile, reticent to leave.

Unless, of course, there is a hole somewhere filled with water. And it doesn’€™t have to be anything special. Just something deep enough to submerge most of your body parts and a few cold beers. Then, of course, we’€™re all in.

Now, the first swimming pool dates back 5,000 years ago in the Pakistani settlement of Mohenjo-Daro. Most of the smart people agree that big tank of stockpiled rainwater was, for the most part, used for religious purposes, purification and renewal of body and spirit. But then came the Romans and water, the very essence and source of all life, now meant wealth in the form of waterfalls, elaborate fish ponds and snazzy Jacuzzis nestled in ornate gardens with free-flowing wine, women and song.

Next, we all studied up on Roman baths in a history class or two, where the lot of us balked at the idea of public bathing. Who does that, am I right? Who willingly disrobes, washes up, and waxes philosophical next to a perfect stranger sans clothes about politics, the price of pottery or both? It left us with this burning question: Were the Romans really that civilized after all?

Flash forward two thousand or so years.

We have all been to a pool where we take one look to the left and see a toddler bobbing in floaties and a bloated swim diaper. A glance to the right finds a perfectly arced jet of icy water sprouting from a poolside fountain. Only there is big fat chance it isn’€™t a fancy fountain after all. It’s more likely coming from a 5 year-old boy, seeing as his swim trunks are down and he’€™s yelling unabashedly for everyone to “€œhurry up, look at me!”

Haven’€™t we all taken one look at the opaque film of communal sunscreen and bellied up horse flies swirling in a tandem, hypnotic state only to offer up a silent prayer to the chlorine gods up there and ease our way in. Why? Why put yourself and your red solo cup of warm wine in the crosshairs of flying Frisbees, Marco Polo’s, and near naked strangers wanting to talk about politics, the price of pottery or both?

Because it’€™s 101 degrees out with a heat index of 116, that’€™s why. And being civilized has nothing do with anything whether it’s a fancy pool, a 20 by 40 foot of inflated air, or a garden hose and an oversized bucket when it’€™s that godforsaken hot out there.

My husband, who has Yankee blood by the way, still doesn’€™t understand why I tip toe into a pool of water even during the hottest month of the year down here called August. Yes, the water is a heck of a lot warmer than bathwater, seeing as the air is hotter than all the nine circles of hell combined. I will agree with him there.

To me though, there has, is, and always will be more than one way to get into the water no matter the month or what the thermometer reads outside.

You can be a jumper,

An easer-inner,

A toe toucher, a belly flopper or a flat-out screwdriver.

Some dive head on, a fair share plunge feet first. Others may Lipton Tea-it while quite a few don’t go near the water at all, they just soak it all in from ashore. Even when it’€™s 101 with a heat index of 116. Or 80 with a cool breeze and a fading sun.

In the end, what do we really know about preaching civility especially when overly hot under the collar? The only thing we do know is when in Rome, follow your own flow.

Like water, that’s where life comes from.