Recently, one of those rare days happened when I had a Sunday afternoon open without any parties, commitments, or gatherings to attend. The sun was shining and not a cloud was in the sky. I thought it would be a great time for the puppy to frolic in some water.

Now, there are few resources to do this. I can’t take her to the neighborhood pool, and the beach is off-limits after Memorial Day. Even before then, you run the risk of being judged as a bad pet parent. When I took her to the beach for an hour play date one day in April, a woman shamed me for being a pet owner who would jeopardize my furry child’s health — despite the fact that I had the puppy in a shaded tent specifically designed for air flow for dogs and had a gallon of water for her in the tent, too. She wasn’t in distress at all — in fact, she was begging for me to let her out so she could play with more people. And now I have a glimpse at all the unwarranted parenting advice my friends receive when they take their actual children out in public.

So, I thought of a genius option: the plastic kiddie pool of my youth. I would just need to find a small one to put on my patio out back, run the hose for a bit, and let Luna live her best life in a judgement-free zone. Only problem ... I couldn’t find a plastic pool to save my life. Apparently, kids these days enjoy their time in inflatable obstacle courses. Walking into yet another store with high hopes, I found one pool in the back corner of the lawn and garden section — and it had a hole in it.

Some would have given up, but I doubled down. Luna was going to get her plastic pool, and she would love it for all time. I was going to make sure of it. So I phoned my friend Paula, who has two adorable children and a big plastic pool they enjoy in their backyard. She sent me to a spot around the corner — and lo and behold, there was a stack of the long-sought-after pools at the front entrance. I thanked the lady at the register so much that I’m pretty sure I scared her a bit. But I had done it, and I was overjoyed.

Once I got home — three hours after my search had begun — I woke little Luna from her slumber so I could see how she enjoyed the greatest gift she had ever received. She took a look at it, licked the water once, and then jumped back out and ran inside … with a nice water trail following her. I just started laughing — a bit too loud and a bit too long. But I was in a judgement-free zone, and it felt good to just let go.

So I hope you find ways to invite the fun and the funny into your summer plans. Whether you decide to “swim-in” for a movie night at Summer Waves or cruise out to open waters aboard the Emerald Princess II, we picked 11 ways for you to enjoy summertime along the coast (page 56). We also have some delicious seafood recipes that pack a punch of flavor without taking much time in the kitchen (page 81). Tour a beach house that looks as breezy and cool as the ocean wind that blows across its East Beach lawn (page 88); or head out on the marsh with a shrimping family that has been supplying bait for locals for decades (page 67).

And if you need to find a kiddie pool for your own, just give me a call. I have one in almost-perfect condition sitting on the back patio.

Splish splash my friends,

Bethany Leggett