One of the greatest things about our annual summer vacation, at least when it comes to fulfilling the expectations of our children, is that the home we rent has a private pool. This means that each day, from sun up until sun down, the Thoma family is free to enjoy a pastime that is typically out of reach to us the rest of the year. It also means that once a year for about twelve days, the people in the surrounding homes have the opportunity to enjoy a few things, too.
It is most certainly true that our neighbors get a very real sense of what it’s like to live on Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine, which is a world with two suns. I say this because as a fair-skinned family from Michigan, we are pretty white. This means that as we emerge from the home having stripped from regular life and now donning our more minimal swim suits, the bright beaming rays of our planet’s singular sun now reflecting from us, it is as though a second sun has risen in the sky. It’s really quite the sight. Even the neighborhood flora seems to, so strangely, lean toward our locale while we’re in town.
Another aspect of our visit I’m sure the neighbors enjoy is the constant screeching from our eight-year-old hoarder who loves to swim, and yet cannot seem to enter the water without twelve flotation devices, three pairs of goggles, some diver fins, and some sort of sharp object that, when she accidentally drops and loses it, is surely to be rediscovered by her father’s foot. And she cries because someone has accidentally splashed her or because one of the other children passed by one of her stray possessions and decided to use it—perhaps a paddle board or water wing that has ended up at the opposite end of the pool.
“Harrison,” she’ll call in a whine, “I’m using that!”
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times this clergyman has re-baptized that little girl in full immersion mode without her momma knowing it. I mean, someone has to fight the evil, right?
I suppose the most enjoyable time for the neighbors comes when we erupt into full “Death Ball” mode, which my more familiar readers will recall, is a bloody spectacle of tidal thrashing that involves throwing a rubber ball as hard and as fast as one is able.
Agonizing screams are expected during the event, and they only go silent when someone gets jammed in the pool filter, is knocked unconscious, or we need to take a break to refill the pool because all the water has ended up in the yard.
Yeah, it can get pretty crazy. But it’s fun. And not only does the raucous splashing hide our blinding whiteness, but it’s a time when you actually crave the disposition of a screeching, demon-possessed hoarder for your team. Don’t take the ball from her. She’ll eat your soul.
Of course, as the neighbors will most likely look back on these days with a frown, we’ll continue to smile and look forward to so many more. In every way, they’re unmatchable for this weary family, especially when the fullest burdens of fall, winter, and spring are upon us, pulling us along in tow throughout the rest of the year. And yet, somewhat in pace with these few, peerless days in the sun, there exists the year-round opportunity to enjoy an appropriately-named dram in the barrel proof Peerless Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey from the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company.
With a nose of dried apple chips and vanilla, the Peerless leads one away from the humdrum of typical bourbons to a more sunlit scape of memorable whiskey sipping. The palate proves a landing at someplace uniquely uncharted, giving over a wash of richly sweet ryes that almost immediately turn to the apples from the nosing that have been sun-soaked in spicy vanillas and a dash of pepper.
The finish is as remarkable as any of its other qualities. Medium in length, its burn amplifies the spice without lessening the lurking sense of the dried fruit.
Speaking of “lurking,” I almost forgot to mention one other thing that the neighbors surely enjoy about our visits: Lizard hunting. Geckos—or whatever they are, maybe anoles—are everywhere in this place, crawling on the screens of the lanai, running along tree branches, and taking their lives into their own little hands by entering the pool area and crossing paths with a group of fascinated vacationers. At the time of this writing, it hasn’t happened yet, but it did last year and we’re only a few days into our vacation, so I’m sure it will again. Very soon, like these native lizards, the children will be found slinking around the outer perimeter of the home, lurking in bushes, barely blending into the landscape because of their whiteness, eyes peering through the branches with hands at the ready to snatch one of these little critters and give it a relatively uncreative name like “Lizzy” or “Gecky” or “Steve.”
I’m absolutely certain that the neighbors will miss this less-than-stealthy but always startling activity occurring just beyond their kitchen window. What more does one need in the morning to get the adrenaline flowing than a fresh cup of coffee and an ear-piercing scream of “I got one!”?