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Eventually, it is up to me to find all the balls while she stretches Sphinx-like on a chaise catching some sun and watching me forage in the foliage.

June 12, 2017 6:20 pm

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Chapter 4: Play Ball!

Until recently, play was a big part of my life. As recreation and in my business. While Winifred loves to chase balls – dirty old tennis ball at the top of her list – I have spent the better part of my life chasing golf balls. My work as a golf humorist in books and a magazine columnist, afforded me years of research into the addiction suffered by millions. To fully understand the causes and cures for “acute ball-beating dependency” I had to succumb to agonizing hours of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of that dimpled little devil. And I confess, I was also an enabler, caddying for amateurs and pros whose lust for the links knew no bounds! (Somebody had to do it.)

What happened next is not relevant here, except to note that several years ago, I stopped playing the game. (I am reminded of Lee Trevino’s advice after enduring 18 holes with a horrific amateur partner: “Lay off for a couple of weeks. And then quit for good!”)

I did. Shortly thereafter Winifred came into my life. And I have begun to play again. Her game. Her rules. She has taught me to have several balls ready for action. Our backyard is full of out of bounds from which she will not retrieve the ball – not so different from my golf experiences. Her rules of play are also not so different. Though it took me a while to see the similarity. In golf, you hit the ball, chase after it, and hit it again.

In Winnie’s ball game, I throw the ball, she chases it, then holds it in her mouth till I come to get it and throw it again.  She also has a cute variation where after getting the ball, she waits until I’m halfway to her, then trots off to hide the thing in some bushes for me to find.

Clearly, our ball games have nothing to do with the word retrieve!  Except on my part.

Winnie has trained me well. I am the retriever-in-chief – reminding me of the simple silly fun of play. She has me throwing the ball, chasing after it and playing hide and seek! So, we keep playing until a dozen balls are hidden around the yard and I call time-out for halftime and a rest before we hit the back 9.

Eventually, it is up to me to find all the balls while she stretches Sphinx-like on a chaise catching some sun and watching me forage in the foliage. She knows I need the exercise more than she does.

Perhaps she also knows the wisdom from that Greek playboy, Plato, who said: You can learn more about a person in one hour of play than you can in a year of conversation. 

You’ll get no argument from Winifred.

 

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