On yet another rainy Ozark day, my cabin-mate had gone to town for a while, so I was swimming. Swimming in the rain always reminds me of summer vacations as a child when I would try to spend every possible minute in water. Breaking through the pool’s surface to have raindrops fall on my face is a magical feeling, as if I am in the spray of a waterfall or frolicking in the sea. Paddling along I couldn’t tell which water was warm and which was cool, the drops made the pool bubbly and vacant, my own private sanctum. After hearing thunder in the distance I decided to return to our room. I gathered my belongings and hauled them up the flight of concrete steps. Cabin number five is located directly above the swimming pool, which gives us a lovely view of pool and lake. There is only one level of stairs between our cabin and the pool, in past years I have been the farthest cabin from the pool and the stair climbing was a work-out in itself, especially if I was down at the lake instead of the pool. I placed the floats outside our door. Deposited my weights, goggles, and cap on a dry towel in a chair, then showered, dressed, and snuggled in my bed to read as the rain pelted outside my window.
A chapter later the rain had stopped, a blue sky was speckled with puffy white clouds and the sun was shining. I had just finished texting with my cabin-mate, who I thought was still in town when I heard my door knob rattle and the door to the cabin open. I couldn’t imagine how my cabin-mate could have returned home so quickly. Next, determined footsteps were heard striding across the cabin’s main room and a voice shouted out, “just coming in to use the bathroom!”
I hopped off the bed and presented myself in my bedroom doorway where I found a slight figure with a cotton hoodie over her bikini top and white yoga pants. Gray hair was topped with a large brimmed visor under which was a very startled, confused face which looked me up and down. The intruder inquired with befuddlement, “this isn’t the Johnson’s?” as she took two more steps toward the bathroom. I said, “No, it isn’t.” She took two more steps toward the bathroom and explained, “I was coming up from the lake and didn’t want to go all the way up to go to the bathroom, I tried over there (points to the cabin to the east) and couldn’t figure out why the Jordan’s would have their door locked, so I decided to come in and use the Johnson’s bathroom” two more steps closer to the bathroom. Two more steps would have her inside the bathroom, so I swept my arm in the direction of the bathroom and said, “Please, feel free to use ours.” In she strode and thanked me on her way out as she stated that she must be a building over. I explained that I knew what a hike it was to go from lake to balcony room, she nodded in agreement and went on her way.
A short time later my cabin-mate returned and I inquired as to if there were any valuables in the bathroom that would have been worth stealing before telling the absurd story of our bathroom intruder. I said she was probably casing the joint…on Hart to Hart it was always the dotty old woman who nobody would suspect to be a jewel thief! Fortunately, we had no jewels to steal, but things would have gotten nasty if she had gone for the licorice or salt water taffy on the table!
The next afternoon found us lounging on the swimming dock between rain showers. The dock creaked as someone stepped onto the opposite end, then soft footsteps fell on the wood as the woman walked the length of the boat slips and stopped in front of us to introduce herself. I recognized the visor topped gray head as my bathroom intruder from the day before. Carolyn told us that every three years her children and their families come together from their homes in Florida, Ohio, California, and Texas to spend a week with her at the Golden Horseshoe Resort. As she spoke she motioned to the resort’s other dock which was filled with her children and grandchildren. They totaled 26 and filled the boat slips with a racing boat, two ski boats, 6 stand up paddle boards, multiple large blow up tubes, full coolers, and lots of towels. We rose to walk with her as we returned to our cabin and met a few of her family members along the way. They thanked us and shook their heads in bemusement at the matriarch’s mistake of the day before. We chuckled and warned that she better not try it again tomorrow as we would be gone and the next folks might not be as accommodating, but told her the rest of the day she was welcome to our bathroom. Our meeting gave me a chance to tell her about Wonderland Camp, she was interested in hearing about it, two of the grandchildren have needs which would make looking into a camp a good idea for them. Later that night our new friends invited us to attend a turtle race.
Without having heard it from Yeats, I have always lived by his phrase:
There are no strangers, only friends we have not yet met.