The sun is trying to shine through the thick haze of smoke from the Terrace Mountain fire. When I look out of the kitchen window for the first time this morning, I see a lot of black stuff floating in the pool. I am puzzled by it then it dawns on me that it is from the fire. I go outside and take a look and, sure enough, everything is covered in a coating of grey ash and black bits of charred bark and pine needles. I touch a pine needle clump just to make sure and it disintegrates into ash. I go back inside and eat breakfast and then back outside to clean it up.
I scoop as much of the black bits out of the pool as I can and then go turn on the filter to get the rest. The pool is still very cloudy despite being shocked earlier in the week. I decide to vacuum the drifts of sediment that has settled onto the bottom. I wrangle the hose off of the fence and manage to figure out how to hook it up to the filter and get started in the shallow end. I go really slow as not to disturb the sediment and it's taking a long time. After about an hour and a half I only have 1/6th of the pool done and I am hot. I go back into the house and change into a swimsuit and feel a lot better. After about another hour I am so hot it feels like I am about to spontaneously combust so put down the vacuum and get into the pool to cool off. While I am standing there I get a light bulb moment. Why can't I vacuum the pool while I am in it? So I grab the hose and shorten the pole and start to vacuum. What a great idea. Now I am cool and not having to reach so far with the long, awkward pole. I am about 20 minutes into it when a young couple stop by. This is the guy who is supposed to be cleaning the pool in exchange for time teaching scuba lessons in it. Granted, he just got married and is fresh off of his honeymoon, but in the month I have been here he hasn't done a thing to the pool.
'Hey." he says. "Are you house-sitting while everyone is gone?" Donna and Malcolm have gone to the coast to visit his sister and family and taken Moriah with them. "No." I say, "Bethany is still here, and I am just visiting." "How come no one's been answering the phone all morning?" he asks. "Well I have been out here cleaning the pool, " I say with a slight emphasis on the 'cleaning the pool' bit, "and I have no idea why Bethany isn't answering the phone." "So you're cleaning the pool then?" he asks. Didn't I just say that, and isn't it sort of obvious, me standing in it holding the vacuum and all? "Uh... yep. Someone has to do it. It's filthy. And this morning when I got up, it was full of floating ash from the fire." He asks if I have much suction in the vacuum and I tell him it was fine up until about 10 minutes ago and now I don't seem to have much at all. He goes over to one of the jets to make sure water is still flowing though the system, and it is. Meanwhile I ask his new bride how their trip to Mexico for the honeymoon went. "I want to bring my dad and two brothers over today for a scuba lesson." he calls out from across the pool. "Is that okay with you?" he asks. I had asked Donna before she left if there were any visitors to the pool planned while she was gone and she told me that all their friends know not to come on the weekend. There are a lot of moms and kids come and use the pool during the week, so I was happy about that as I planned to spend quite a bit of time in here over the long weekend. I want to swim a lot of laps to get myself back into shape as well as just relax in the water in this heat. So this is a surprise to me, being it is Sunday. Also, I don't want anyone in the water, disturbing the sediment. "Well, not until I get this pool cleaned. I want to vacuum the rest of it, and this has taken me two hours so far so it's going to take me the rest of the day to get it all done. If you guys come in then you will disturb all the sediment." He is quiet for a bit. I start to check why the vacuum seems to have stopped sucking altogether. There is no suction from the hose. I tell him and he goes back to check the intake and then the valve. "Could the basket in the intake be clogged?" I ask. "That should have come out before you put the vacuum in." he tells me. "Oh I didn't know that. It's in there. Could that be the problem then?" "Not unless you've been sucking up a lot of big leaves." "No, haven't done that." "Well, if we get in here and stir it all up with a scuba lesson, the filter should take care of it." "No I don't think so." I say. "The filter was on earlier and still all this settled to the bottom. And I really want to get it cleaned up. I don't want the water full of it again."
I click the vacuum head back onto the pole and hose but there still isn't any suction. I am frustrated as I really want this pool clean. "So then, I'll be back in a bit with my dad and brothers then." he says, "See ya later." And they leave me standing there with my mouth open. Frustrated, I get out of the pool, detach the hose from the filter, and coil it back onto the hooks on the fence. I would like to have tried to get most of it up before they come back but there's no point in wasting time vacuuming with a hose that isn't working. Maybe the filters will take care of the sediment if I leave it on all night instead of turning it off for most of the time like Malcolm does. But I have a suspicion that what will happen is I will get up tomorrow and everything I just cleaned will look as it did before I started.
Sure enough, it is now the next day and I get up this morning and look out through the kitchen window at the pool through the weird orange haze that the freshly risen sun is casting through the heavy smoke. There's no ash floating so their wasn't any wind last night. But the shallow end of the pool is dotted with clumps of sediment again.