When we planned the pool for our backyard we decided not to enclose it. We wanted to preserve as much of the natural outdoor look that we could.
Most everyone else we know had enclosed screened in pools. Having our pool unscreened has meant a lot more in maintenance at times, like netting out leaves after storms. We don’t mind. Our neighbors have to clean the screens covering their pools periodically or replace them after several years. We just go out and net or swim and clean out our pool. We prefer it the way it is. Besides, we’ve enjoyed seeing lots of natural visitors at the pool.
There’s a long list of visitors we’ve had. I think the first was a black racer snake. He must have come zipping across the lawn and inadvertently fallen in. We happened to be looking out toward the pool from the house at the time and saw it all. The black racer plopped into the pool and just kept on going wiggling its way across the width of it and then out the other side. We thought it was quite a feat.
Since then we’ve also found glass snakes or legless lizards and lots of ring neck snakes in our pool. If we don’t find the glass snakes fast enough they drown but the tiny ring necks will hang out on the floating thermometer or in the skimmer basket. The ring necks seem to like the pool. I may have extradited the same ring neck several times and not know it.
Some other critters that like the pool are the spade foot toads and leopard frogs. The toads of course aren’t frogs and so they normally can’t swim that well. If they stay in the pool the poor little things bloat up and die. They almost seem suicidal. I scoop them out and later find them back in the pool. I wonder if they’re somehow related to lemmings.
The leopard frogs, however are a different story. These guys are sometimes huge. When their in the pool they swim all over the place. The first notice of them is a quick movement under the water and sight of their long legs. At first, I used to net them out but like the ring necks, the leopard frogs returned. We finally worked out an understanding and let them use the pool whenever they liked. When they’re not in the pool they’re in the front yard in the pond. It’s been a pretty good coexistence.
Then there was the turtle we found in the pool one morning. It was one of those little stinkpot turtles, the ones with the ridges running along the top of their shells. I walked out onto the pool deck and noticed something moving along the bottom of the pool. Since the lake is just a ways down past the pool, we figured it had wandered up to check things out. I scooped the turtle out with the net and returned it to the lakeshore.
On another occasion we found a crayfish in the pool. We spent some time speculating how it got there since for its size the distance from the lake to the pool seems to great for it simply to be exploring up our way. We thought perhaps a bird was flying by with the crayfish and accidently dropped it. That was one theory. Then one morning we found some footprints along the side of the pool that might suggest how our crayfish got there. They were a neat little pair of long skinning toes that trailed up from the lake. It looks like a raccoon may like washing his meals in the pool.
I’d be incomplete in our listing of wild things if I failed to mention birds. Ah, yes we also have birds. Twice, I have witnessed a bird flopping in the pool. One time it was mockingbird. We figure from watching the birds that sometimes hang out by our pool that some of them either try to take a drink or mistake the step out for a shallow spot to bathe. Why they don’t use the two bird baths I don’t know. Maybe sometimes their too crowded so a bird decides to try the pool?
The other time I witnessed a bird in the pool it was a young black bird. I know because I rescued this one. It was floundering in the deep end and couldn’t get out like the bigger ones do. I ran out and scooped it up with the net and carefully place the soaked little thing in the grass. It reminded me of one of our cats when they’re wet, kind of silly looking. It looked at me and hopped off into the bushes.
I’ll end this entry with the photos of one of our more docile visitors to the pool. This visitor came by one afternoon some years ago while we were out sunning. My wife and I were so relaxed we wouldn’t have know that we had company had it not been for the alertness of our dog. She started snorting and walking along the side of the pool so I looked up from where I was napping. There was this great big gopher tortoise ambling along the length of the pool. He didn’t pay a mind to a thing, just kept right on walking. I grabbed the camera and took a couple of pictures.
Isn’t it something living with Nature!