Lake Water

I was raised by a lake.

My grandmother as a teenager on the lake, mid-1940s just after the reservoir was built

My brother and I were fortunate to have grown up within walking distance of Lake Travis. Our grandmother was fortunate to have grown up with a very savvy father who’d bought about 15 acres on the lake before it was even a lake. Back when it was just an idea to dig out and dam the Colorado river. He probably got it for, like, two dollars.

When our parents moved back from California, my grandmother bequeathed them a half-acre or so of her property to build a house on. Daddy got plans for a two bedroom house out of a book and he and his buddy Ike built our house together.

Our water supply (and my grandma’s water supply) came directly out of the lake. Directly. Like, the only filtration was literally a piece of window screen zip-tied around the pipe to make sure rocks and shells didn’t get sucked up. It’s incredible to me that none of us ever got dysentery and died.

Our waste water went into a septic tank, so it was a one-way system in that respect.

We were both considered “water safe” by the time we were five or six. As long as we kept our life jackets on, we were allowed to swim by ourselves. My grandma’s house was right at the top of the steep shoreline so she could easily keep an eye on us and make sure we were wearing them.

It was so fucking fun, we never wanted to leave the lake. One of my favorite things to do was swim out until I couldn’t touch and then take a deep breath and somersault down into the water, spinning all different ways until I couldn’t tell where I was anymore and let myself bob to the surface to find out which way I was facing. We built little “fairy houses” out of lake mud and sticks and algae. If we got thirsty, we’d drink lake water. If we had to pee, we peed in the lake. It never occurred to either of us that that was gross.

One time we both had to poop. That in itself was kind of surprising, that we both had to poop at the same time. But the last thing either of us wanted to do was stop playing to run up to grandmother’s house to poop.

So we pooped in the lake.

We paddled about ten feet away from each other and squatted with our butts under water. As we pooped, I took the chance to make it into a game and I yelled out:

“If your poop floats you win and if it sinks you lose!”

His poop sank and my poop floated and we swished it away from us as far as we could.

I totally won that game.