Pickleball

I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m an athlete now.

When Bob “retired” back in July he started playing pickleball three times a week. He’d probably play more but it might interfere with his golf game or his going back to the office as a contract employee (kind of like retirement light). Bob has a lot of energy and the heat down here in Florida doesn’t keep him from playing these outdoor games.

Then there’s me. The summer sun beating down on me can almost keep me from going to the mailbox. That may be a slight exaggeration, but after sweating that 15-yard walk (x2 since I have to return) six days a week, May through October, I’m ready to take a dip in the pool. I garden on the shady side of the house only in the late afternoon or after dinner. Once when I parked far away from a store just to park in the shade, my daughter told me she thought shade was my idol. She’s not completely wrong.

But Bob wanted me to play pickleball with him, and I love that. It was so sweet of him, especially since he knows darn well that there is not an athletic bone in my body. I am competitive, so I guess he thought that might see me through. I agreed to play but insisted I’d start in November or December after the blistering heat had subsided. That would up the chance that I might like it (from 10 percent to about 30 percent). Then we all got COVID in November, so that gave me a pickleball reprieve until December.

December arrived and I couldn’t come up with more excuses, so finally Bob got me to go with him to the neighborhood courts, which was great as I didn’t have an audience. We had a couple practice sessions and then joined the regular Wednesday night group, which he had already become a part of.

Pickleball, despite its ridiculous name, has a few things going for it. It’s played with a wiffle ball, so it doesn’t hurt too much if you get hit. The court is slightly smaller than a tennis court, so less running. To me it felt like ping pong, only with large paddles and strange scoring and rules. The part of the court close to the net is called the kitchen, and you are not supposed to go in there. That was endearing.

The most surprising part of the game was that I liked it. Right away. Even though I was just learning and wasn’t good at it yet. I’ve only been playing for about six weeks, so I’m still not “good,” but I am improving. I set the bar for enjoyment pretty low, and I have leap-frogged over it. I now even suggest playing pickleball, much to Bob’s delight. We are teaching friends to play. It’s practically a miracle!

But that was before the injury. Last week I sustained a hamstring pull. Yep, I pulled a hammie! I must be an athlete! In validation of my athleticism, I would have high-fived my friend who was with me, but I could barely walk, so that will have to wait.

The irony is that I sustained this injury while bird watching. I am still in disbelief that my hobby has so cruelly turned on me. We were walking along the shores of Lake Apopka, enjoying the beautiful, cool January day, spotting alligators and birds, and wham – I nearly did a face-plant after tripping on a partially buried rock. I guess I should have stretched before doing such rigorous exercise.

It might be a couple weeks before I’m back on the court. I sure hope this doesn’t hurt my game!

American Alligator posing at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Various ducks and water fowl on Lake Apopka

A Couple of Things Jumped Out at Me this Week

A couple of things jumped out at me this week, they were both frogs. You may remember that I hate them. They seem to know it, too.

Frog #1 – It happened while taking the garbage out in the middle of the day. This is a time that should be frog-free. I am not on the lookout for these slimy green menaces when the sun is high in the sky. That’s my time to look for snakes sunbathing or passing through the grass with only their heads in view. You have to be vigilant down here in the Sunshine State.

Then it happened. I was almost back in the safe, frog-free zone that is my home. As I opened the door, my right foot ready to cross the threshold, something jumped on my left foot. I, in return, jumped, and was grateful that I didn’t fall; but something didn’t feel right afterward. The realization that I must have pulled a muscle made me hate frogs even more. Those aggravating amphibians! On the other hand, I was encouraged because a pulled muscle meant that I do indeed still have muscles. Of course, being the non-athlete that I am, I didn’t know for sure what I did. All I knew was my leg hurt and I thought a frog was attacking me. (Later Bob would give the diagnosis of a pulled hamstring. I felt like an athlete!)

I gained my composure enough to look for the culprit to make sure he didn’t come in with me. He was nowhere to be seen. I did see a flower which had fallen off of my hibiscus on the pavement next to me. I have to assume that the frog disguised himself. No flower would cause me such pain.

Flower or frog?

Frog #2 – A few days later this guy was lying in wait while I was clearing the pool deck as we prepared for Hurricane Dorian. Bob was out-of-town. Frogs seem to sense when he’s not around. When you’re preparing for a hurricane, you have to clear anything around your house that could become a projectile. This includes a lot of stuff when you have an outdoor room. The things that hang on your outside walls do not look as attractive when they fly through the air and break windows. Everything is potentially hazardous. Anyway, I was doing my due diligence just in case the storm arrived.

Before Bob left, he removed the one thing that I didn’t want to tackle, the large space heater. Not only is it heavy, but I knew it was really dirty and gross plus potentially it could have a frog or two hiding under it. I should have had him grab the life jackets that we hang on a column for our youngest grandchildren, because that is where Frog #2 was sleeping. He didn’t appreciate me waking him up either because he scurried (too lazy to even hop) up the column right towards me. I let out one of my embarrassing screams, lurched backward and nearly fell into the pool myself. This action aggravated my aforementioned pulled hammie.

This was a Cuban frog, an invasive species that can be as big as your hand and has eaten most of our native little tree frogs. That makes them even more hated. You now understand just how dangerous frogs can be.

 

Image result for free picture of cuban frog

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bob has assured me that a pulled hammie takes a while to heal and has advised me to avoid straining it further by staying away from any place where frogs might be hiding. I guess I’m going to Hawaii.