Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Woodbury’s little Memorial Day parade (always held on Sunday, not Memorial Day itself) marches along Main Street in front of our house, so we usually have a little front-yard gathering of half of our friends, who chat, sip a little something, and wave to the other half of our friends passing by and waving back. This year, the lady who drives the miniature horses stopped (by secret pre-arrangement) to pick up the amazed B, who was lifted onto the sulky and grinned and waved her way to the South Green. Pretty nice.

A was home in New Hampshire building a fence (looks good, too—I think Jasper the Wonderdog must have helped), so it was just B and H for the weekend. Here’s the B, explaining  about the plantings she and her grandmother started some weeks ago. B helps her daddy with the vegetable garden in Concord, and she seems to really appreciate the magic of seeds becoming leaves, and flowers, and edibles.

On Memorial Day proper, the four of us took the pretty drive through Washington, to New Preston, and down Rt. 202 to Clamps, an old-fashioned roadside hamburger stand. You stand in line to order, then sit in your car or find yourself a table or bench on the grass to wait until they shout your name to come pick up your food. It’s a pretty famous place around here, and we’ve been going there for decades. It’s changed a little, but it’s still great.

It was a very warm day,  but where we were sitting under the trees it got pretty chilly, so I brought B the old fleece pullover that lives in my car.

This weekend, all four of them will be here, along with a strong crew from Capital Multisport, their Triathlon club from Concord. They’re all coming to compete in either an Olympic-length tri (Saturday) or a half tri (Sunday) at a nearby lake. So our house will be full of super-fit, enthusiastic, competitive young people. It’s been awhile. Can’t wait.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Peeved am I

Listening to the Maraniss book over the last few days I was thinking, “Boy, he’s leaving a lot of the good stuff out. Probably because he’s making a point that doesn’t require him to cover all the athletic high spots.” At the end this morning, the voice reading the credits announced the name of the person who abridged the book for audio. Abridged? The packaging makes no mention of it. If I’d wanted an abridged account, I’d have consulted my own memory with the occasional Wikipedia touch-up. I don’t feel exactly cheated. I don’t feel as if I’ve completely wasted my time. But I’m pretty sure I feel a moderately grouchy half hour coming on.

On the other hand, the reader—who is also the author—does pronounce “Cerutty” correctly. As the man himself said, “sincerity without the sin.”


Of course, I’m a Lydiard man, myself.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rafer Reminder

I’ve just started listening to David Maraniss’ book about the 1960 Olympics. It reminded me of what a big fan I was of the great decathlete Rafer Johnson when I was a boy. I followed his battles with UCLA teammate C.K. Yang and with the Russian Vasili Kuznetsov, and had absolute confidence he’d win that Olympic title.

That in turn reminded me that when our 8th Grade class graduated from Woodbury Elementary School in 1961, I was assigned a brief oration based on the class’s favorite things. One was our favorite athlete. Despite my allegiance to baseball as the only thing in the world actually worth doing, I had voted for Rafer, and had lobbied all my friends to do the same, so I was stunned and embarrassed to learn I was going to have to announce Babe Ruth as our collective choice. This, in my mind, displayed the utter ignorance of at least a plurality of the class—probably those dopey girls. The Babe was the great transcendent name of American sports, for sure, but he had played his last baseball game in 1935. Ancient history! Come on!

I entered a dissent with my teacher.


So there I stood in my brand new suit on a set of risers in the Woodbury Elementary School auditorium one late spring evening in 1961, reporting in my brand new unreliable voice this utterly nonsensical result. I tried to roll it out in a tone that I hoped registered as ironic or incredulous or at least not my fault, but nobody noticed (who was an 8th grade graduation speech).

Ah, but we also recited Kipling’s If.  (Yes, it was a long time ago in a world far away.) And I remember that when we got to

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run (...)

I felt as if I’d personally snuck something over.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spring in Woodbury and thoughts
of Scotland

A soft couple of days on Main Street, with a little of the rain we need. Every May I think, “This is definitely the prettiest time of year.” And then October comes and I say the same thing. It’s certainly true that if you know your back roads and take a ride from here anywhere in, oh, a 20-mile arc swept from west to north, you’d be pardoned during either of these months for thinking you’d taken a detour through paradise. Of course, October has apples.

Tomorrow is the start of the TGO Challenge, the annual walk across Scotland that is responsible for this blog’s existence. Here’s hoping the weather is fine and the midgies continue their winter slumber. Very best wishes for a wonderful two weeks to all participants. I’m still holding out hope I’ll be there next year. Here’s an image of Glen Kingie from near Kinbreak Bothy, from my aborted 2008 attempt.

May looks different there. So does paradise.