I’m Not Alone . . .

By Jim McCloskey

When I wrote about the trend toward floating “river pools” in my July 13 blog (click here), I had no idea I’d pick up quick editorial support from TravelandLeisure.com, the web site for the grand magazine of the same name.

In an article entitled, “Absurdly Scenic Floating Pools to Add to Your ‘To-Swim’ List,” Erika Owen flashes through five of the world’s current pools-on-water in gorgeous fashion (click here).  “Sometimes the situation just calls for chilling out in a pool that’s . . . floating on top of another, larger pool. Not only do they provide some amazing unobstructed water views,” she writes, “barge pools can also be great spots to meet locals.”

“From a floating pool in the Seine to an ultra-luxe experience at San Alfonso del Mar Seawater Pool in Chile, all of these swimming pool experiences are bucket-list worthy,” she adds.  “Read on, grab your bathing suit . . . and start planning.”

I like her attitude – and understand it completely because the photos of the five pools are spectacular.  I’m particularly prepared to jet off to Italy’s Lake Como to enjoy the floating pool at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo – and I’m betting I could even find the time to head on over to the Villa d’Este while I’m in the neighborhood.

As the photos demonstrate, there’s vast potential in these pools – and great variety, too.  As I wrote previously, some deep-pocketed entrepreneur will make a bundle by turning these watershapes into turnkey systems suitable for any urban waterfront.

***

I’ll soon be finding editorial support in a much grander form when a book on the step wells of India is published sometime next year.

According to a report from Chicago Tonight (broadcast on WTTW, the PBS affiliate in the Windy City), “It was a chance glance over a wall in the Indian state of Gujarat in the late 1980s that set Chicago-based arts journalist Victoria Lautman on an obsessive course that only now is reaching its conclusion.”

She’s had much more time with this obsession that I have.  As you might surmise from my own Travelogue on step wells (click here), these structures have only nagged at the fringes of my thoughts since 2014, when I reported just how blown away I was by the audacity, beauty and technological genius of these structures.  I am entirely relieved to let her run away with a subject she’s pursued for nearly 30 years – a period in which she’s visited more than 100 of India’s remaining step wells, many of them in good shape but, alas, many of them crumbling with age and surrendering to erosion.

“Raising awareness,” she says, “is the only way these things are going to get saved.”

Here’s hoping her book accomplishes such a noble goal.  As the selection of images accompanying the Chicago Tonight web piece demonstrate, these are watershapes of sublime beauty and mystery and tell an amazing story of water management of the most elemental and urgent kind.

To see the full story (and those enticing images!), click here.

***

Just after I wrote the lines above, I saw a story about a new sort of step well being built not far from me in the hot, arid confines of the San Fernando Valley northwest of Los Angeles.  The $29 million project will improve the existing Tujunga Spreading Grounds to improve rainwater flow down into the valley’s vast aquifer.  According to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, it will capture billions of gallons that would otherwise flow into the ocean – enough, they say, to supply 50,000 homes with water each year.

It may not be as beautiful as a step well, but in drought-weary Los Angeles, this project has a splendor all its own.

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