It’s been a lovely couple days. I don’t usually use a word like “lovely” to describe anything, but I can’t think of any other description that is as apt. Monday was Mary’s last day of school for the year, so Tuesday morning we loaded the van and headed for the cottage. She couldn’t have asked for a better start to her summer vacation than the two days she’s had so far. And tomorrow promises to be just as perfect. The sun has shown brightly, the breeze has been refreshing, the humidity low. Summer doesn’t get any better than this.
We haven’t done anything exciting unless you consider reading, walking, floating on the lake in a kayak, reading, playing with the dog, reading, writing, eating, reading, napping, bicycling, reading some more, drinking wine, watching the Sopranos, drinking some more wine and reading some more, exciting. If any of those fits your description of an exciting beginning to the summer vacation, then we’ve had an exciting two days so far. And get this, I haven’t even been to the golf course yet. That shortcoming will be rectified tomorrow, so don’t feel badly for me.
Thursday morning is my time to play golf with a group of retired men in an informal league. These are all guys in their mid sixties to mid seventies who really can’t play golf very well but can talk a helluva game and have a good time doing it. I am probably the youngest guy out there and am considered to be the best player as well. My golf game leaves a lot to be desired, so you can imagine how badly the other guys play. Handicaps range all the way up to 37 with the average being around 25. My handicap nowadays hovers in the low teens for the most part, but has been as low as 8 in years past before Parkinsons Disease took away some of my game.
The group is an interesting cast of characters whom I know only in rather shallow terms, since I don’t socialize with any of the away from the course and only know about them from listening to conversations and the tidbits I can pick up along the way. The conversations on the course are mostly about the sorry state of our games on that given day, but other information can be gleaned by listening and occasionally asking a pointed question. I was most surprised to find out that several of the players are retired cops from the big city who have moved to this area to get as far away from their previous life as possible. One of them was a homicide detective who worked on the Jeffery Dahmer case. Another was a robbery detective who looks and acts more like a grade school social studies teacher. And there’s the retired fire captain who is never without a plug of tobacco in his cheek. He spits his way around the course. There is the requisite sampling of former salesmen of various commodities who always have something to say and a quick joke to keep your attention, trying to close one more sale. There’s the dirty old man who never seems to run out of off color jokes that amuse him more than his audience.
Then there are several avid hunters and fishermen who talk mostly about the latest hunt or catch and the conditions under which they were achieved. One of those guys always wears a feather or two in his cap that he finds along the way. We are all under strict orders to save any found feathers for his cap. We have a chicken farmer (only a hobby he insists), a rabbit farmer, a college housing coordinator, a wealthy industrialist, an architect, several former factory workers, a retired Catholic priest, and me.
Golf is the great equalizer. Most of these men would never have crossed each other’s paths if it wasn’t for golf. The full range of political and spiritual beliefs are represented in this group. It is a microcosm of the society we live in. There is a bit of verbal sparring and vocal ridicule, but it is mostly in fun and never taken seriously. We cheer for each other’s good shots and shake our heads knowingly at the bad shots. There may be a lesson for all of us here in how to get along better. Maybe if every world leader was required to join a golf league and play with people he would not normally encounter in his daily work of ruling the world, there would be fewer disputes that result in bloodshed. Hit a wicked slice or a nasty duck hook off the tee and you realize just how human you are and how alike everyone else you are.
So that’s my recommendation for settling the world’s problems. Get everyone on the golf course and cheer for the good shots and tsk tsk the bad shots and we'll all get along a lot better.
I'm sitting in a comfortable overstuffed easy chair in a new llittle coffee shop in town that actually h as internet access. Civilization has arrived in this central Wisconsin town. Now that I can get a coffee fix while tapping away at my MacBook's keyboard, I may have found a little slice of heaven. I'll try to keep in touch more regularly now. As if you care.........