With all the discussion about where to cool off, what with Montclair’s town pools still shut and all, some families have taken the discussion a little deeper, so to speak. For them, It’s not just a question of finding a body of water to swim in; the quality of that water counts, too, along with its surroundings.
Over the weekend, Catherine Belonogoff, a Montclair mom of two kids aged 3 and 6, headed off literally to the woods in search of the idyllic swimming experience.
highlands pool-1.jpgAt Highlands Pool, in Ringwood, NJ, their search happily ended.

“Highland Pools was built in 1935 by a group of anti-fascist German-Austrians who dug the pool by hand together. So its very foundation is from goodwill and peace. Beyond that it has a non-discrimanatory policy and an environmentally conscious agenda. It is simply one of those good places through and through,” Belonogoff said.
But that wasn’t all. She also found the nature-enveloped environment, and the non-chlorinated waters, perfect for her and her young boys.
She reeled off a long list of other pluses.
“There is grass instead of concrete so it’s cooler. There are a trees around the whole thing so it’s shadier. The water is inky black because of the clay bottom – it’s like an enveloping hug of coolness on a hot summer’s day. Your skin feels hydrated after swimming instead of dried out. There is change every time you visit since it is a natural setting so it presents teaching opportunities – the polliwogs the kids play with in June will be frogs by September,” Belonogoff said.
“Lastly people come from far and wide to swim in that water so there is a feeling of community and kinship there. It’s been that way at every natural pool I’ve ever gone to. There were people of all ages there from 5 to 75, and a lot of conversation between everyone.”
I was completely sold on Highlands Pool, until Belonogoff casually added towards the end, “It’s not a place for people who are afraid of creatures.”
Sigh. That rules me out then.
Another spring-fed pool within 30 minutes’ drive of Baristaville is Chatham township’s Colony Pool, which I checked out last weekend during their open house. Read about it here.
And for those who are content with our local pools, Barista Kids has done all your legwork for you; just click here.

Reuters editor, food blogger, photographer, diva of the domestic arts

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