"Why yes," I answered, while simultaneously trying to figure out what let the cat out of the bag. Was it a son in shorts with wool socks? Me in Chacos despite the locals have coats on today? Our lack of fashion sense in general and the fact we don't give a hoot about it?
Reading my mind, and nodding toward our third son, Chrissy remarked, "His hat." Ahh, yes. "Alaska Grown". A sure give-away.
We began talking, and this kind woman revealed she was from Eagle River. As in, Eagle River which is a 40-minute drive from our hometown in Alaska. That's all it took for us to become friends. We started discussing what brought each of us down to this neck of the woods. We talked about the mountains and specific hikes we miss, and the hazards of the Eagle River Hill during the Anchorage commute. We talked all things familiar. Her husband joined in, and at some point, one of them mentioned something which may seem unremarkable to most. "There are great pools here, like, outdoor pools. You know, where you can swim outside--in the sun." We were all nodding with serious faces, because we know the significance of that. Gary went on to describe the rivers here, and how you can swim in them. More nodding of heads. More serious expressions. Yes, we get this.
Our boys swam in a lake for the first time the summer before this. That was our last full summer in Alaska, and it was a record-breaker for heat. We had a wonderful time, swimming in three different lakes over the warm part of the summer. We didn't stay in the water long, and our lips were sort of blue afterward, but we swam outside in the sunshine.
Throughout our travels this summer, we swam day in and out. For the first time, the boys experienced the joy of jumping into cool water on a hot summer day. When we arrived in Tennessee during the hottest time of the year, we lived to jump in the campground's pool each day for that sweet relief. This was great, until August arrived, we were moved into our rental home, and the public pools closed for the year. We were a bunch of Alaska-shaped puddles on the floor, wondering where anyone could get some relief. Overhearing our lamentations regarding this, a Target cashier said, "Oh Honey, don't you know about the Y?"