Piece of Mind: Swimming laps, solving problems

Water spots on my sunglasses make it a little challenging to see, but I know this pool well. I continue my awkward version of the breaststroke, most of my head above the waterline in hopes of keeping my hair as dry as possible.

Obviously I’m no athlete, but there is truly no other place that I’d rather be than in our backyard reservoir of sun-warmed goodness. With each leisurely lap, I rehash the day’s events until I’ve worked out in my mind each issue that has faced me, and then turn my attention to matters that lie ahead. In 80-foot increments, my worries lessen a bit while my joints loosen up.

Personal and workplace problems are generally ironed out in the first 20 minutes or so, then, just because my mind can’t rest, I wrestle with challenges before the community. The upcoming school board election for two expiring seats, for example: Should we be concerned about spending money on the election in such tough times? Would it have been better if only two people stood up and the election canceled? Or are our students better served by having a challenger that forces a civic conversation? No matter how many laps I do, an answer to that one doesn’t present itself. In the pool, just as I am out of it, I’m cursed by a tendency to agree with both sides. So I drop that subject.

While my brain processes the smell of lighter fluid that’s being used to start a barbecue next door, it also launches into thoughts of the age-old problem of traffic accidents on Foothill at Angeles Crest. What to do? Who knows?  A few laps later I’m considering recent deaths on the Crest above La Cañada. Nope, can’t solve that one, either, because it wouldn’t be right to shut down the forest entirely and that’s really the only way to stop the carnage. Better to return to happier thoughts.

That’s accomplished easily enough when I touch the east wall of the pool and, just as I’m making my turn, the sweet smell of Korean barbecue wafts over the fence. Oh, baby! What should we have for dinner?

The teenagers gathered for the outdoor feast are chatting and laughing and, mid-pool, I start thinking about how much I loved it when our daughter had friends visit during her high school years.

This train of thought leads naturally enough to musings on the first week of school, which is approaching all too rapidly. I recall all the forms we parents had to fill out, seemingly endless streams of paper moving between our house and the campus. Today, I suppose all — or at least most of — those forms are filed electronically. What an improvement, although I imagine one still has to meet deadlines.

The cat, relaxing on the deck while I swim, hasn’t figured out the attraction to being immersed in water. But he seems delighted to escort me from the house to the pool, and then back indoors, after I’m done.

So our routine goes, from some point in June, when the pool’s water finally rises above 80 degrees, until about the first week of October, when much cooler nights bring my personal swimming season to a close. For now, on this mid-August afternoon, we’re both supremely content, the cat and I. We may not have resolved all our pressing issues, but we feel good — and wish summer would never end.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. She can be reached at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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