Everything Old Is New Again


 Way back in the day (we're talking the 1970s here), my maternal grandfather was a lawn bowler.  It was a popular "sport" at Skytop, where my grandparents would vacation in the summer.  (If I recall correctly, they would actually stay for a month!  A full month!  Can you imagine that now?)  If I recall correctly, he was on a "team" that consisted of mostly homeowners in the area.  They played the Buck Hill Falls team regularly (another local resort).  I recall tales of triumph.  The sport was so popular that in one of Skytop's brochures from that time frame, there is a photo of lawn bowling and you can (sort of) make out my grandfather in the shot.  (It's a small photo.)  I don't know if he played daily while my grandparents were there, but he did play regularly.

Lawn bowling still exists, but I've never taken part.  I've seen homeowners on the green playing and it seems to still be taken very seriously.  (This was confirmed recently by an employee at Skytop.)  A few years back I gave an introductory lesson a try.  There was no one else there; other than the two employees who were there to teach me how to play.  I wasn't very good, but it was relatively easy to learn (but not easy to master.)

On our recent trip up, my son and I decided to give it a try.  It was so popular that on Sunday we were unable to get a slot at noon.  (I knew you needed to sign up for a "lesson" but I didn't realize that we wouldn't just be able to get a slot on the fly.)  My son was disappointed, so I immediately went to the concierge and signed up for Monday at noon.  (There are two times when they offer an introduction:  noon and five and I knew the later was too close to dinner for us.)

We were both there before noon on Monday.  A game was already going on between homeowners.  (On a Monday morning!  See it is popular!)  The staff informed the players that there was an introduction to the sport scheduled and they finished up with us watching.  They WERE serious with the sport.

There were about 4 other "teams" that wanted to learn how to play.  We got the basics. (It's similar to bocce, but definitely NOT the same.  Check out:  https://recreationinsider.com/bocce-ball/lawn-bowling-bocce-ball-differences/ and https://seattlebowls.org/what-we-do)  Since we weren't serious, we eyed the position of the bowls to determine who was closest to the jack (no serious measuring here) and the person who was closest was deemed the winner of the round.  (This would not go over in serious play, but this was our first go round.)  Supposedly there are 20 rounds to a game, but we were only supposed to do 10.  We didn't get that many in.  I guess we are slow players because we only managed 9.  My son won 4 and I won 5. 

But to be honest, it wasn't about the winning for me (although that certainly didn't hurt).  It was about playing.  Playing on the same green that my grandfather had played on 50 or so years ago.  Learning about something he loved. (At least that's what I think...if he didn't love it why would he have been so committed to it at Skytop?)  Getting our own feel for the game.  Realizing though it IS easy to play, it's hard to master.  (There's a lot more skill than I realized.  And you really have to think about where you want your bowl to go because it's not going to go straight.)  It was the connection to the past and maybe to the future.  (I didn't realize that Lawn Bowling IS still a thing...obviously just not in the circles that we travel in.)  

It was quite hot when we bowled, but that didn't stop us.  Nor did it stop me from scheduling another session for the next day.  As well as the day after that.  Was it the bowling or was it holding onto the past?  Maybe both?  

We are not the best lawn bowlers.  (Although my son did get a lot better on days 2 and 3; he solidly beat me in a 10 round game both times.  I'm trying not to let it hurt too much.)We never will be (there's not a green in our area), but I know that when we are back at Skytop (and you know we will be) during the warmer months, we will make an effort to bowl again.  For as much as things may change; when it comes to us lawn bowling, nothing has changed at all.



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