Our swimming hole

Years ago, my favorite swimming hole was a five-minute drive from home. We’d go at all hours. The only other people we were likely to run into, Kim and Iris and their kids, lived each summer in a home overlooking the expansive junction of two creeks. Kim would paint the scene over and over again each summer and, like the best memories, capture it differently each time.

You could do laps there, swimming through pockets of cool, cold, and sometimes warm water. Fish fry would nibble at your toes if they weren’t actively kicking around. Occasionally you’d see a huge trout eyeing what was going on from the center depths.

We all knew to invite folks sparingly. It was an unwritten law. Some secrets are best unshared.


These days we drive down to the place when it gets really hot. It’s an hour and a half away. We always run into people we haven’t seen in years. They first learned about it from me, or Kim and Iris.

There’s a bit more didymo, or rock snot, accompanying the smaller creek’s waters that empty into the pool. But beyond that nothing’s changed much. It’s a rare place where one sees no buildings, no sight of humanity beyond those sharing these cooling waters.

We get asked why we come so far. We tell them we’re looking for something equivalent in the Adirondacks and Berkshires, but beyond a few spots hidden along the Hudson’s river roads, haven’t found anything so sweet. And now so personal.

I guess there’s an element of privacy that’s long drawn folks to the Catskills. There may not be as much wilderness as in other places, but that doesn’t mean there’s any lack of hideaways, especially if you explore a bit and don’t get flustered when stores and gas stations disappear. It’s rare that you stumble upon the crowds that traverse Peekamoose or the Gunks.

Just take a map that’s not dependent on phone reception. And develop a nose for magic sometimes hidden in the strangest places.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.