For the duration of The Games

IMG_5120Let the Games begin!

Note: Sorry for the odd typeface sizing.  I lost my usual Word template, don’t ask me how.  Will figure it out before my next post.

If I’d looked at the calendar and had seen what was coming, I might have realized in January that whole notion of getting back to my previously scheduled programming was doomed through the middle of February.  The Sochi winter Olympics are upon us, and as a result, certain things have come to a standstill at our house. The laundry baskets are full, stacks of unread magazines are piling up, and leftovers are the order of the day.  Oh, and we keep running out of milk.  The only thing multiplying around here are the dust bunnies in every corner.  Hey, I can’t help it—the games are afoot!

 IMG_5122Look who won! Liggety Diggety Dogg! I got to meet him last fall at the US Ski Team fundraiser in Boston.

The obligation to drop everything for the duration of the Olympics started early in my life.  I grew up in a sports-obsessed home, winter sports especially.  We skied every weekend and every school vacation, December to March, sometimes earlier, often later. I discovered slalom and giant slalom, or perhaps my mother discovered ski racing for me, her fifth child, as a useful weekend childcare option.  I became a sponge for any tidbits of ski racing lore I could glean from any source. I knew Jean Claude Killy had won three gold medals, and I loved his amusing trick of arching his feet backwards and then thrusting his skis forward through the start wand—an act that the world eventually realized was  a clever way to get a head of steam going before the electric timing was engaged. I perfected my own “Killy start” early on, even though the officials used stop-watches to hand time my races. 

 IMG_5140Classic Killy Start, right there.

When I was in the fourth grade, I longed to be Nancy Greene, especially after she won two Olympic medals, silver and gold.   I confounded my classmates, none of whom shared my skiing obsession, by always citing Greene as my hero. I cried inconsolably over the fact that my parents wouldn’t send me to a summer ski camp at Whistler, wherever that was.  Nancy’s image was featured on the flyer, along with vague wording about her association with the camp.  My mom read that as marketing catnip for the likes of me.  I read it as a chance to meet my idol and demonstrate my giant slalom prowess to her.  Alas, my mother’s sensibilities won out, and I was left to only imagine that brush ski racing royalty.

 IMG_5141My hero, circa 1968.

My summer Olympics memories are vivid as well, even though we were not a family of rowers or divers.  I did have sisters who were besotted by the whole equestrian realm, but their interest wafted over my head, skipping me entirely.  That said, I could get sucked into watching almost any Olympic sport, including their beloved dressage.  To say we got a good view is a bit of an exaggeration; there was nothing even vaguely hi-def about our Olympic viewing back then.   The peacock on our TV was still just shades of gray, and our channel-changing knob had been broken for so long, I’d forgotten that there was a way to switch from one station to another without employing the claw end of a hammer.  But despite the fuzzy black-and-white images, Bob Beamon’s incredible long jump in Mexico City was just as breathtaking with the vertical hold needing constant adjustment.  His emotional reaction upon smashing the world record was no less dramatic for the visual fuzz.

Confession: I was always more interested in the individual sports than the team sports, which probably says something about me.  Or perhaps just something about the lack of sports options I had when I was young.  It wasn’t until my freshman spring that I discovered track and field, where I could compete on a team and for myself, simultaneously.  From there I concocted dreams of being a gold medal winning winter and summer Olympian, in alpine skiing and in track and field.  Which would have made me the shortest (and slowest) hurdler ever to claim international victory, but no matter.

IMG_5155Maybe I could have parlayed my hurdling experience into a different winter Olympic event?

Nah, probably not.

 

As the years have flown by, I’ve stockpiled dozens of favorite Olympic moments. I was high school senior when my own Olympic dreams were replaced with college applications, back when I watched Franz Klammer ski on the edge of peril to his downhill gold medal.  Four years later, in my college dorm, I viewed the USA-USSR hockey game on a tiny TV that popped up from the portable AM-FM radio, the one that my mom let me borrow for the Lake Placid games.  She knew I’d be grateful for a way to watch, even if the screen was the size of a coaster.   Five winter Olympiads later, I remember our then-seven year old son being smitten with Cammi Granato, star of the USA women’s hockey team, as she skated for gold at the Nagano Olympics in ‘98.  That was the year we broke our No-TV-on-ski-weekends rule, and hooked up the cable “for the duration of the games.”

* * * * *

These days, the connection that compels me to watch is the same as ever: the thrill of a job well done, the pure joy that results from an effort beyond expectation in the Olympic spotlight.  The era where my sweetie and I used to watch the alpine races to see people we’d competed against, racers we knew from high school or college, has been replaced by a new era, where we check to see how our ski racing friends’ kids have fared, along with our kids’ friends.  Something about having been part of that ski racing world years ago makes us lifetime members of the tiny intersecting set of people who have passed that love of the game on to another generation.

IMG_5152Friends’ kids and kids’ friends: this happy collection of US Olympians includes Julia Ford, far left, whose mom and aunt and uncle my sweetie and I ski raced with eons ago, and who had my brother-in-law as both a ski coach and history teacher. On the far right is Nolan Kasper,  our older son’s ski academy classmate, occasional spring term college roommate and dedicated Joe Dodge Slalom attendee.

The games are winding up this weekend.  Perhaps, come Monday, my life will be back on schedule.  Or, at least, I’ll have a better shot at getting back to my New Year’s resolution of going to bed earlier, and getting more sleep.

IMG_5124But first I have to get up early, and see how this daughter of a college teammate of my sweetie, this sister to my son’s tenth grade roommate, will fare in the final women’s alpine event at Sochi.  Go Mikaela! We’re all rooting for you.

 

the blue and the white

IMG_4742A favorite beech tree, on a glorious blue sky day.

Sorry folks.  I’ve been a laggard here.  And this, after figuring that the holidays were over and we’d all get back to our regularly scheduled programming…well, maybe you did.  I’m still stuck in January, and an extended intersession for two of my three men (dad and son on the same academic calendar has its advantages, except when it means a long stretch of folks who wake up and go to bed and eat at different times, all under one roof…) Then we had some weather.  Then I got bronchitis, or something.

IMG_4695Then it snowed, some more.

And then…Over and over and over, I kept looking up and seeing…this.

IMG_4721Here’s the view I kept waking up to, this past week.

We’ve had an amazing stretch of blue sky days.  Blue skies, white snow, the occasional re-dusting of new snow, more blue skies.  It’s been glorious beyond description.  And has required, apparently, a significant portion of my attention span this past week.

IMG_4773Just days before, I photographed snow drops from these steps.

So what I’ve been up to, beyond trying to get my Christmas cards into the mailbox (conveniently disguised as Valentines) and offloading stuff to get out of the architect’s and contractor’s way, is being outside, and taking it in.

IMG_4768Just me, and the skyline of Boston, and a rabbit.

Confession: before starting this post, I went through my phone photos and deleted approximately three out of four that I’ve taken in the last ten days.  I figured that would leave more than enough to choose from, without overwhelming my iPhoto bank.  Seriously, I thought I had it down to about twenty shots.  Turned out eliminating three out of four got me down to 200 photos to choose from for this installment.

IMG_4749Even the snow by itself was blue and white. This is the path to where my great horned owls hang out.

I just couldn’t stop.  I kept meaning to go grocery shopping and finding myself at, for instance, the Mt. Auburn Cemetery.  Which is a national treasure by any measure, and is beautiful beyond description on any day of the year.  But there’s something about that place, and the quiet within its gates when the snow has muffled the noise and the caretakers have put their power equipment away for the winter.  Glorious, beautiful, serenity.  Everywhere you turn.

IMG_4591I slogged through some snow to say hello to Charles Bullfinch.

IMG_4592And Bullfinch’s next door neighbor, Buckminster Fuller.

IMG_4597And Bucky’s ancestor, Margaret Fuller.  Great woman.  Unfortunate hairdo.

I also kept detouring to my beloved reservoir, for the mental health break I kept seeming to need.  That, and with the hope against all hope that the snowy owl might come back and hang out, while I was looking.  No such luck, but there was still such beauty, at every turn.

IMG_4791The water is wide, and I can’t cross over. Gotta go the long way around.

IMG_4786Nests are revealed in the bareness of branches, and remnants of blooms abound.

IMG_4855In the sun, in the shadows…white and blue and white and blue.

Anyhow, that’s what I’ve been up to.  Witnessing the beauty all around.  Trying to soak it all in.  Making sure to notice.

IMG_4604Look at the light of this hour.  Indeed.