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December 26, 2018: The First Annual Croquet Honey Bucket 2018 Invitational

I’m not sure whose idea it was, to have a croquet match. And I’m not sure whose idea it was to have it in the Playground of Higher Learning. All I know is that the balls, mallets, and hoops have been sitting in the inside the outhouse for 15 years. And often, I’d think, we should have a tournament. The question was, where? Because we have no level ground in better weather. This, after all, is a sport which is played under brilliant blue skies, on green grass. And usually, tea and scones are served.

So to play croquet under grey skies, on a plowed horse agility course was a bit different. And it was an invitational – El, Pete, and I played. I put away the rest of

Alys takes her shot
Alys takes her shot

the items in the agility course and dragged the set up there this morning.

We ventured outside at 2 p.m., after Pete cleared off some of our roofs and El and I made home-made egg noodles. The weather conditions were perfect. Temps were in the 20s. Pete considered drilling holes for the hoop ends but this didn’t happen. Next time. We used buckets that were on their sides, as end goal posts. They made a very satisfying clanging sound when the wooden balls went into them.

The rules were croquet playing rules. You have to go through the hoops in a certain order, and you get an extra turn if you go through a hoop. You also get an extra turn if you hit someone else’s ball. You then have a choice; you can head for the hoop or you can send their ball elsewhere.

Shortly after starting our first round we discovered three things. First of all, the plowed arena surface was rutted and so the balls did not go in a straight line. Secondly, it’s tremendously difficult to send someone else’s ball if you’re wearing Steger Mukluks or hiking boots. And thirdly, it was not a literal level playing field. The surface is sloped so the balls easily rolled downhill, out the court and in the direction of the horse pen.

It was a figurative level playing field. The humor level was high, the level of ability of the players quite low. Actually, Pete arose to the occasion at the beginning of the first of the two games and ended up winning both games. My theory is that he was bested at Scrabble three nights in a row, and doing well in the Invitational was his way of making up for his prior lackluster performance.

Me, I had a hard time getting through the first hoop – I think the croquet Gods were out to get me. I took this in stride, of course, realizing that no, they weren’t out to get to me, but just needed someone to laugh at. So I laughed back.

I (of course) have ideas. I want to teach the horses to play a variation of this game, instead using larger balls and instead of hoops, I’ll use agility obstacles.

The second invitational will be next year, same place, same time. I am going to start practicing now so that I am prepared for next year’s competition.

Next: 361. 12/27/18: The Real Meaning of the Holidays

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