Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Maine Christmas

Good tidings to you on this most blessed of days!

An ice storm hit New England, and many people here in Maine have been without power for more than 48 hours, including yours truly.

Even though the temperature plummeted into the single digits, the cold weather didn’t keep me from going outdoors with my camera.

Following are some winter scenes I photographed while out and about.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Welcoming fence posts at home in Mount Vernon, Maine

Maine lobsterman ornament

A gigantic Adirondack chair

Yes, it's really that big.
The 9-year-old twins in this photo are my nieces.
Willow playing in the snow

Arboretum in Augusta, Maine

Simply beautiful
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sportsmanship Reignites Faith in Youth Sports

Yesterday morning, the thermostat read 5° outside! If I don’t like rolling out of bed early on my day off, what makes me think confronting an arctic blast to attend an early basketball game will be fun?

But hey, my nieces had an 8:30 game, so I bundled up to face the cold.

The school where the game was being played has your typical gymnasium with a basketball court stenciled on the floor. Retractable lunch tables were flushed even with one wall. The school’s stage was recessed into another wall on the opposite side of the court.

When we arrived, parents, grandparents and siblings had already filled the plastic chairs on the stage. My perch for the next hour would be one of the three steps leading up to that platform. Since the heat hadn’t warmed up the gym yet, many people kept their puffy parkas on.

After making a quick trip to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, I returned to find the game had already started. My red-headed niece, Aubrey, was palming the basketball. She was antsy to cross the half-court line, but pintsize guards prevented her from doing so. As she paced from one side of the court to the other, the rest of the players—mostly girls and a few boys—moved together in sync with her. It sort of looked like cattle being herded by a Border Collie. The crowd laughed, and so did Aubrey.

Most third-grade girls stand taller than their male counterparts. However, that didn’t deter one little guy from dominating the game. Hunching low to the ground, the fellow never looked down as he dribbled between towering females. His eye was trained on the basketball hoop. With one spectacular lay-up, he sunk the ball in the basket. Apparently, an older brother taught him how to play the game.

My other niece, Amber, isn’t as surefooted as Aubrey, but she smiled, bounced the ball, and never looked up to see where she was going. With more of a dancer’s body, her stride can best be described as twinkle-toed. The art of running on one’s tiptoes without ever planting one’s heels on the floor. She’s such a girly girl.

Seeing good sportsmanship made my day. If a player dribbled toward the wrong backboard, coaches and supporters from both sides shouted for the kid to turn around. Double-dribbling was overlooked many times. And parents didn’t yell at their kids if they made a mistake.

Two decades ago, I became disillusioned with youth sports for that very reason. Soccer parents screaming when their children made errors put a bad taste in my mouth. Coaches giving more play time to their own sons just didn’t seem right. For Pete’s sake, they were little kids, not professional ball players.

I sometimes come across people on Facebook who took the fun right out of sports when my kids played all those years ago. Most politicked for or showed favoritism toward their own youngster. Do they regret not treating all players as equals at such a young age? After all, it’s not as though their kid went on to play professional sports.

Yes, witnessing good sportsmanship at this small-town game in rural Maine gave me faith in youth sports, again.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Hallmark Channel Kind of Moment

Tonight, I experienced a Hallmark channel kind of moment as Mount Vernon residents gathered for the annual Christmas-tree lighting.

We began the evening by sipping hot chocolate and socializing at the community center built in the 1800s. School children sat down on the old-fashioned, pine-board floor and listened to a Christmas story. A short time later, everyone ventured outside to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree. When we went back inside, a real-bearded Santa was waiting.

I'm humbled to experience this holiday tradition for the very first time in New England.

This place is comfortable. Many townspeople have lived in this quaint village their entire life. And then there are newcomers like me making a new start here in Maine.

Yes, I am a very blessed woman indeed.