Underneath the deck in the backyard, back in the days when everyone had jobs with incomes, and no one was retired or out of work based on disability — or, as storytellers say, “A long, long time ago” — we bought and installed a large, fancy, hot tub. A five-seat tub. It has all the good stuff in it. Lights, places to lie down or curl up, with various fittings to massage whatever muscle mass you desired.

We took good care of it, too — which is a lot more work than you think it will be, especially if you aren’t overly fond of the smell of hot chlorine. A natural tub takes considerable work to manage.

We got an official electrical engineer to install a separate socket to handle the excessively large amount of electricity it consumed. It used more than $40 per month — all year round because you can’t turn it off. You can lower the heat when you aren’t using it, but you have to turn it up regularly or it grows … well … stuff.

And this was electricity for just the hot tub, not including the rest of the house.

To support it, we had a concrete slab laid. Five-hundred gallons of water is a pretty hefty volume of water. Heavy. It’s one of the main reasons  hot tubs live outdoors. That much weight is a lot for your floors to support. It was heavy enough to cause the concrete to split, but by then there was a hot tub on it which didn’t go anywhere for the next 12 years.

When we were setting the cement, I bought a special tile that read “Welcome to the Zoo.” It had pretty text and pictures of little animals all around it — and I made it part of entryway to the tub.

Welcome to the zoo.

At the time, the dogs were only part of the zoo. My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter also lived here … and who knows who else. I lost track over time. It was a zoo indeed.

Four, maybe five years ago, we got rid of the hot tub. No one used it anymore and the electricity bill was ridiculous. I liked it when I could use it. Soaking in really hot water for five to fifteen minutes does some very good things for tired old bones and muscles and it was particularly amusing if you got to do it while watching the snow falling all around you. But, there came a time when moving the heavy cover off of it was a bit much for me, and the roof that protected the tub had gotten a bit loosey goosey.

Being in the tub and watching the falling snow was fun. Having it falling on your head was less fun. The movable plastic walls we’d built needed redoing, too. Finally, we drained it one winter, since we weren’t using it, but the following spring, it didn’t want to work anymore.

We donated it — and I hope they fixed it up. It was a good tub and we enjoyed it. It was worth repairing.

Meanwhile, the slab under the deck has become difficult to read, covered as it is in leaves and fallen debris from the trees. But, if you clear it and clean it up a little bit, it still says:

You are still welcome to our Zoo!

All those cute little animals are still dancing around it, though most of the zoo has left.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

27 thoughts on “WELCOME TO THE ZOO”

        1. I always wondered if a doppleganger would help or hinder life. I think it would just confuse me. But you, at least — I know you aren’t a duplicate “me.” Even if we keep living parallel lives 🎵


    1. I can’t get into our bathtub, or, more to the point, I can’t get OUT of our bathtub. But a hot tub has steps and rails. It’s a lot easier than you bathtub. Still, I’m afraid to even try that anymore. I’m afraid all my limbs will go to sleep. Then they’d need a crane to remove me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve never had the pleasure of using one. I hear from everyone that has, that it is indeed a wonderful experience. The expense would be prohibitive anyway as our electricity bill is 150.00 a month now. Still it would have been nice. I find it touching and delightful that you are still welcomed by a few zoo members.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have many zoo member, but no tub, alas. It was the electric bill that finally did us in, by the way. The price just kept going up and eventually, I simply couldn’t do it anymore.


      1. I could imagine that being so. Can’t imagine paying $50.00 a month whether using or not, but I understand too if there’s an electrical usage, but still, on low you wouldn’t think it would be as bad.


  2. I kind of thought the hot tub would have some issues. I can see where a soak in warm, vibrating water would be beneficial to sore, aching muscles too. We had an out door swim in a pool one time after skiing. It was delightful to see the cold all around and still be nice and warm in the water, though It was extremely difficult to get out of the water.


    1. Getting out of the water was an exercise in character. Because it would be close to zero outside, but hot in the tub and no matter how fast you grabbed your robe, there were those moments when that cold wind hit your hot body. Yikes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a bit jealous of these LOW electricity bills.Though mine includes a gas fed furnace, my bill runs over $400 a month in the winter! Yikes.

    And there is literally nowhere a hot tub would not crush, collapse or sink something.

    It is definitely wet here.

    But a great story! I love your Zoo!


    1. We had huge electric bills like that in Boston because our heat was electric — insane in a climate this cold. It was the primary reason I wanted to get our of there. Sometimes our electric bill wasn’t much lower than our mortgage payment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve used other people’s hot tubs, and apartment/hotel hot tubs, but have never wanted one of my own. They are pleasant to sit in, but as you pointed out, a pain to maintain.

    When I was *much* younger and lived in New Mexico (back in the ’90’s) some friends and I used to go hiking in the mountains and skinny dip in the hot springs there. Now that was fun… snow and hot water is, as you pointed out, an interesting experience.


    1. I had no idea what a pain it would be to care for or I’d never have bought it. I really wanted an actual SWIMMING pool, but I already knew I could manage that. This was a compromise. It did help the back, though and we got a lot of use out of it for a pretty long time. Much longer than most things we buy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never used a hot tub, nor had any desire to do so. I’ve always wondered, though, since I also live in the Northeast – when you leave the nice, warm tub and have to then enter that snowy air, don’t you feel your body going into shock? I know mine would.


    1. I never had used one until we bought ours, but that was just about when my back was really bothering me and I thought it would help. It did help, but I had NO idea how much of a pain taking care of it would be. I’d never have bought it had I realized it wasn’t just adding chemicals. But for all that, for a good 10 years, it was there and we all used it and enjoyed it. I think if we’d gotten a smaller one, it would have been easier to handle. This one was a bit big.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband and I saved for a hot tub for years…three times we had enough money, but then something big broke down and we had to spend it on a furnace, a roof, a new floor. Finally, we have our hot tub on our deck. I love it in ways I can’t describe. I watch for shooting stars. I see the moon rise. I look out into the dark woods behind the house.
    I know at some point it will have outlived its usefulness, but for now my aching muscles love it!


    1. We bought ours almost as soon as we bought the house, so we had money. If we’d waited, we would not have had the money. We should have gotten a smaller one. That might have worked out better.


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