I think back forty years. I was teaching a life skills program at Lethbridge Community College in Alberta, designed for young adults who were struggling in some respect, and who wanted to get into regular college programs. We were on a winter outdoor education trip to the mountains. We had just completed a loop trip on snowshoes, including portions on trails and another on a road.
As we approached our van, John came up to me. “I think I dropped my glasses back up there on the road.” (Sigh) I looked inside and immediately knew that I would go back and find them. The students would huddle in the van with the guy who was supervising with me.
Off I went, alone. Not too wise, in retrospect (the alone part). As I trudged upward, it became so clear in my head: Somewhere, John’s glasses would appear before my eyes. And they did.
Now today. After a scrumptious brunch and several conversations at the Mount Elgin Golf Club, I decided to walk the fairways of Tarandowah … my friend and lover. Yes, I am in love with the windswept fairways, the deep pot bunkers, the undulating greens, the silence.
I decided to walk the six holes that would loop me back to Scarlet. Soon a quest emerged in my mind: “Find a golf ball.” My goodness, what a silly thought. Tarandowah was covered in snow. Finding white amidst a sea of white seemed hopeless. Actually ridiculous. To which my quiet voice replied … “Find a ball.”
Alrighty then. I said hi to Hole Number 1, and to Number 3. I stood behind the green of Number 14, reliving the scene that shines on my bedroom wall. Today was winter rather than summer, but that didn’t matter. So far no emerging white spheres, but my faith kept erupting. Dear Number 6 has a mound in the middle of the fairway – such a delightful and unfair obstacle for determined golfers. There was lots of white on the mound, even a few globs of snow that were roughly round, but no dimpled fellow that I could see.
I crossed the bridge over the creek on Number 7. Way off to the right, at the bottom of things, a white ball appeared to show itself, but wading into freezing waters just isn’t my thing.
On each hole, I scrutinized the bunkers. They were all tilted up, facing back to the tees. At the front, all you needed was a step or two down to enter the kingdom but the far edges were usually at chest level and adorned with a beard of long fescue grass. I often stood on the fairway or rough above the high edge and looked down, hoping to see some white regularity among the strands. Nothing.
There are huge mounds behind the green on Number 8, bordered by a sea of gnarly grass. I looked here, I looked there, but as far as I could tell, no golf balls winked back at me.
Finally Number 9 and the return to Scarlet. I seemed to be running out of options but there was a fierceness within. “The ball is here. Find it!” Number 9 is a par five and I roamed from bunker to bunker without satisfaction. All that remained was to cross the 18th green on the way to the parking lot. Four more bunkers loomed.
First – blah.
Second – nyet.
Third – endless snow.
And now the fourth. My quiet voice said “Walk onto the sand.” I did. “Approach the far wall,” with its flurry of long grasses hanging. I did. “Run your hands down through the vertical grass.” I did … nothing. “Again.” I did. “Keep going.” On my fifth or sixth swipe, my mitted fingers bounced off something solid. I pulled the grass away.
Embedded in a pocket of frozen mud
I read these words:
A golf ball