Rock Stars – The Frozen Chosen
Some claim that our salvation should be sought on a daily basis. I understand that salvation to apply not just to our souls and minds, but also to our bodies in which our souls and minds are encased. As this long, dark, cold Canadian winter slowly evolves into spring, I think of plans for the coming winter of 2018-19.
Little children, school age kids, university students and people with full time jobs…including household workers, are so busy that they do not seem to be challenged by winter as much as retired and senior people. So what works to minimize SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and simple winter blues?
The possible solutions might include the Great Canadian Escape of the Snow Birds to a warmer climate, or a membership in a local gym, mall walking, dog walking, daily mass, shopping, looking after grandchildren or other volunteer work. Other people look forward to cross country and downhill skiing, bridge parties, hockey in the many local arenas, book clubs, and lunch with friends. Other people enjoy snow shovelling, time on the computer and watching television.
But what I have grown to love in the winter is curling. I was introduced to this sport as a teenager when curling was a part of our school’s physical education program. Later, I joined mens’ leagues. Four times each winter my wife and I curl with long time friends, after which everybody meets for a planned pot luck dinner at a member’s home.
Now in retirement I have joined a mixed seniors’ curling league composed of 32 retired men and women who range in age from 60ish to their 80s. To emphasize the social nature of this league, we divide the season into 4 quarters and make new balanced teams after each quarter.
Our senior’s curling league begins in mid October and finishes in mid March. We curl for about 2 hours almost every Monday and Friday morning, so the first and most obvious benefit is that curling gets us out of our homes. The total cost of curling in our league’s 35 games is about the same cost as going to 20 movies, or the cost of 1 or 2 tickets for a Jets’ NHL game.
Curling equipment begins with a curling broom. Some people with damaged knees or other aches and pains have found an alternative to the normal position of throwing the rocks from a semi kneeling position. While standing, such a person uses a specially designed “curling stick” which grabs the handle of the rock .
The curler then slowly walks forward and releases the rock as in a gigantic, iced shuffle board. You will also need a “slider” for your shoe, and perhaps a light pair of gloves and a pair of outdoor pants that have some stretch in them. In short, curling is a very inexpensive sport, which may explain it’s popularity, especially among thrifty seniors.
A third benefit of curling is developing the skills learned in throwing the rocks, and the exercise gained from sweeping the rocks. Curlers in the Olympic Winter Games are strong women and men whose sweeping of the rocks makes a major difference in their game. Although obviously not of the same intensity, most senior curlers can also work up a sweat from sweeping their team’s rocks.
Finally, curling is a very social sport, perhaps especially when you are in a mixed seniors’ league. The aim is to win, and for some that leads to very competitive games. In a four to five sheet curling club, the sounds of rocks being hit, skips yelling, and cheers and moans for a good shot reverberate loudly and joyfully throughout the rink.
A well-placed rock is good for one’s self esteems, while a poor shot can teach humility. Curling is a team sport though, so your efforts are always for your team’s greater good. Curlers also compliment their opponents both during the game and after the game over coffee, or soup, or a sandwich, or a cold beer in the club’s restaurant.
The annual Christmas dinner party and end of the season dinner at the curling club are highlights of our season. Outside our league, some members participate in various curling bonspiels. Apparently a curling group of Toronto area ministers, priests and rabbis refer to their bonspiel as the Friars Brier. The social nature of curling proves that it has always has been much more than just a sport.
A mixed seniors’ curling league breaks the long, dark, cold Canadian winter. It is an easy sport to return to…even if you have been away from the sport for a long time. Go check out your local curling club and see how much fun it is. In my “golden years” curling has developed into a true life sport. For that, I say thank you Lord.