Thursday, January 3, 2013

An Ice Bowl By Any Other...

Around the fire, the disc golfers passing out bowls of chili, sipping whiskey, scratching their beards, Andrew looks at me, says, "This is your Heaven." Heaven being that place one goes to feel eternal, in the heart, in the mind, some chapel of security. Aren’t we constantly escaping our fears and responsibilities, our madness and uncertainties? I believe this is why these 52 people came to these woods to play disc golf on January 1, 2013—the simple joy of knowing, of being there. This place covered in white, the body pulsing with warmth, the body attacked by cold, the pleasure of finding the answers.

This was the bring-your-own-partner, worst-shot, doubles tournament held by the Indy Disc Golf Club at the stellar Mohawk Disc Golf Compound. This was a format set for massive scores (of the + variety), long hours in the cold, the jarring nature of taking the most punished, most punishing, worst shot. This was the condition of inches of snow, of lost discs, of frozen fingers, of searching for any warmth one could find. And that’s how Andrew and I emerged, 24 holes, six hours, later—punished and jarred, frozen and searching for warmth.

But yet, despite the mathematical difficulty of adding up our hefty score, despite the iced pant legs and numb fingers, there’s a joy here. The on-lookers of my disc golf life—parents and friends, lover and coworkers—question the trek in the snow. Spring sure to come soon enough. Every sport has its season, right? So, why this day, post-mini-blizzard, new year’s day? This was the only way I wanted to start my year.

I am not like some, some of my Elwood friends playing still 4-5 days a week in the snow and cold. I am not like some, who stand steady and strong in the icy conditions. But I will play, do play, occasionally in the snow because it’s a test of how much the sport actually means to me, how much the simple act of tossing a disc through the sky, no matter what it might land in—rain or water, snow or grass, or oh joy chains!—of how much all that matters. I spend plenty of time indoors being warm, asking my questions, fumbling my answers. Disc golf, anytime of the year, is my chance to let it go, see what happens.

(Side chatter about Mohawk: What an amazing course, sprawled through thirty acres of woods and farmland, someone’s private property nonetheless, complete with a couple creeks and a pond, it truly is a disc golfer’s dream. Ace runs and punishing spots. Varied shot selection and innovation. See: hanging basket over a creek. See: a basket with no pole, sitting on the ground. See: island basket in the pond. Probably not our smartest move playing it the first time in the winter. But this course is a beauty.) 

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