There are few things better than a well-thrown curling rock.
You know it the moment it leaves your hand and watch it gracefully glide down the ice to land precisely where you wanted it to go.
I threw my first rock of the season at the Medford Curling Club on Friday night in a shoot-out game between me and my son, Alex. The game followed a predictable course, I would lay a rock and Alex would quickly follow up and take it out.
This is a perfectly legitimate strategy to follow since the end goal is to be the one with the rock closest to the button. The challenge with it is that the person who is taking the rocks out has to be pretty accurate and hopefully have the skill to not only take your opponent’s rock out, but leave yourself in a position to score.
Alex ended up out-shooting me in our contest, but I am waiting for a rematch to show him that even old guys can get things done.
Beyond just getting an opportunity to spend time with my son, it felt good to have a curling broom in my hand and to look up at laughing flames in the Curling Club’s massive fireplace. Things felt right, and almost normal again. It is a feeling that has been in short supply in the past nine months since COVID-19 took over every news cycle and caused mass cancellations of events.
I get it, I truly do, about the need for restrictions, shutdowns and exercising every caution. I have had friends die and others lose loved ones from the disease. It is something that should be taken seriously.
At the same time, I know how important it is that people be allowed some glimmer of normalcy.
British writer and politician Sir Clement Raphael Freud once said “If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and loving, you don’t actually live longer; it just seems longer.”
For some, the glimmer of normalcy they need is in watching sports. They need the escape of being an armchair quarterback or to obsess over people making left turns at high speed for three hours. The same glimmer can be found by others in the escape of playing video games or getting lost in the depths of a good book.
For many bowling is their preferred activity, their few hours of normalcy each week. I am absolutely awful at bowling, usually celebrating getting the ball anywhere else but in the gutter, but I can respect the skill of people who make it look easy to get strike after strike.
At the beginning of Gilman’s school board meeting on Monday night, the district administrator read a letter signed by members of the girls basketball team begging that they be allowed to have a season. They recognized the need for safety and for taking every precaution possible, but they also need their chance to play, to belong, to forget about anything else but being part of the team and working toward a victory.
Looking at absolutes and the cold reasoning of science, there is a strong argument to be made for shutting everything down and imposing a more strict version of last spring’s Safer at Home order. Let us hope it does not come to that extreme, and instead that the spike levels off and pulls back from the brink giving medical and public health professionals the respite they so desperately need.
To make that happen we must all do our part. We can have our moments of normalcy, but we must respect that to pay for them we must use vigilance in doing things like wearing masks and social distancing. We must adapt to additional cleaning protocols and other inconveniences.
There is in all things a balancing act between what we must do and what we want to be able to do.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.