May 31, 2001

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Without taking anything away from the importance of the celebration of Memorial Day, the three-day weekend also presents a wonderful holiday for most. Typically it is the first opportunity for many to get the boat out and head to the lake for some skiing or other water sports. For others like myself it normally provides me with an extra opportunity or two to hit the golf course or head out to the pond for a fishing getaway.

Of course this year was a bit different than normal, as temperatures were rather cool and what seems to have become an ever present rain kept things damp. I didn't get a chance to make it out to golf. Some of that may have been that I was still recovering from the Pepsi Tournament earlier in the week. The golf course had moved up the event from its normal August scheduling to avoid the hot weather. I believe they accomplished that goal, as it was rather cold all day long at the event. Now I realize golf carts are not the fastest moving vehicle, but when you consider there already was a pretty good breeze, I expect the cart-aided wind chill factor was closer to freezing than one would expect. For most that just makes things a little unbearable. But for a hacker like myself it can make things miserable, considering every time I miss hit a club (which was quite often) it rattled those cold hands. I don't think the hand pain was near as bad as the mental injury caused by my poor play.

Well you know I didn't golf, but I still had the chance to fish. The weather pretty much handled that. When it was not raining (seemed like about 10 minutes total all weekend) I did try to get something going at the pond. Evidently the fish were on holiday too, thanks in large part I'm sure to the cold front that had settled over Missouri all week.

But don't worry folks, I still have a real sports story to tell. Apparently the rest of the family was as bored with the outdoors as I was. That's when someone drug out the old volleyball net. I knew we were in trouble right off the bat. They had the chalk line, tape measures and even a level and square, putting up the court as straight and perfect as possible. We had spray painted out-of-bounds lines. I suspect if they could have found a certified official in town they would have hired a referee.

You can learn a lot about folks at a little gathering like this one. Competitiveness was not an option with this group. They're just lucky they had enough food to go around when the kids were younger or I'm afraid they would have reverted to survival of the fittest. Don't get me wrong, there was no arguing or foul play or anything like that, and honestly there really wasn't that much emphasis placed on winning. However there were bodies flying all over the court as players dove for balls and stretched their bodies to the limit to make the plays. Maybe competitive was the wrong term, as it was more like a family of athletes trying to show they still had it.

I hope I made this sound like it was all my brothers- and sisters-in-law who were playing their hearts out. But as I write this I sit in my chair with a sore back, aching hamstrings and a bruised ego. I forgot to mention the damaged knee, which was suffered when I slipped on the wet grass. That's right, we played the final game in the dark as the rain fell on us so we could break the tie.

When we finally made it inside I'm sure the folks were wondering what the heck we kids had been doing. We were soaked, as much with rain as with sweat. Most were covered in grass (you see we had the bright idea to mow the course before the game, leaving plenty of grass clippings for us to roll around in) and grass stains. Several went to the freezer for ice bags to cover bruises and other injuries while the rest of the pack headed straight to the ice water or to the rehabilitating care of the hot tub.

I can't imagine what the 4th of July will be like when the entire family is back. I guess I better start getting in shape now.




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