Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweet Sixteen and Crazy Eights

This isn't how I planned it.

MY plan... I mean fantasy.... for the weekend went something like this.

Saturday would be sunny and pleasantly warm, much like the weather we had on St. Patrick's Day. I would go to the bike shop and test ride the new road bike that I have been lusting for. I would take a good two hour ride and really put it through its paces, because my previous experience with road bikes is that they feel great for the first 10 miles and then the lower back pain starts. This new bike is proportioned for women which is supposed to really help the back pain issue, but it will take a pretty good test ride to know if that's true.

As the fantasy continues, after my exhilarating test ride,  I would start  spring clean-up in the yard and garden. I would peek under the mulch and find my peonies poking through. I would clean up fallen sticks and seriously consider clearing out the protective garden mulch.  I would probably leave it in place, “just in case," confident that I was simply erring on the side of caution.

Sunday would bring an easy and effortless win for my beloved Uconn Women Huskies against Georgetown in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA championships. Maya Moore would play with her characteristic magic, making shots that seem to defy the laws of physics. Kelly Farris would always be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to be the most valuable underrated player in the conference. The team would barely break a sweat and we'd move on to the Elite Eight in fine fettle. Al and I would watch the game on TV, relaxed and smug about the superiority of our team.

That is not exactly how things worked out.

Last week, I wrote that the 65 degree sunshine on St. Patricks's Day flipped the “spring switch” and with the energy thus flowing, I felt invincible. With infinite energy, suddenly all things seemed possible. Well, whoever flipped that switch apparently had a cruel sense of humor. I made a false start in the race to spring,  leaving the starting blocks before the official gun went off. We've all been called back to the starting line and it isn't clear when the race will actually begin.

Despite my earlier optimism, we are in the midst of the unseasonably cold temperatures of an unusually long winter, even for Michigan. Less than one week after the false start of spring, we had a snow day from the university with some of the iciest roads of the entire winter. The morning temperature yesterday, when I hoped to be test riding that beautiful new red road bike, was a whopping 12 degrees. The peonies, if they are even close to the surface, are not only blanketed by a thick layer of protective mulch, but also by 5 inches of hard, crusty, icy snow. I would have to shovel the yard before I could do much cleanup of winter debris.

The worst part is that none of that really mattered. That manic energy I felt a week ago was sapped by the worst head cold I've had in years. I spent Saturday sniffling, sneezing, blowing my nose while huddled under two blankets, eyes too puffy and itchy to even read a book. Infinite energy? Hardly. More like infinitesimal.

I felt pretty miserable.

Kelly Farris, Maya Moore, Bria Hartley
Still, I was confident of an easy win for the Women Huskies against Georgetown. It is easy to get complacent about our team winning; they do it so often and make it look so easy. I wonder if the team feels that way as well.   However, Georgetown took an early lead and maintained it for most of the game; clearly this was not a game for a complacent team or even a complacent fan. UConn missed easy shots and turned over the ball needlessly, while Georgetown seemed to have all the luck. Ok, maybe they are a pretty good team, and maybe I underestimated them. Ok. I admit it. They are a very good team and I definitely underestimated them.

I started this blog while watching the game and for a while it really was not at all clear who would win. I wasn't at all sure how this story of would end.

As usual, the Huskies did win. These women do not give up just because things aren't going their way. Seniors Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon have a career record of 148 wins and just 3 losses, a record you don't develop by chance or by giving up when you make some mistakes. The commentators talked about Geno flipping the right switch and turning the game around. I am a little skeptical about switches after our St. Patrick's Day Disappointment, but energy certainly did emerge from somewhere deep inside those women and the game did suddenly change. Our beloved Huskies came back strong, closed Georgetown's lead, and then took one of their own. This happened uncomfortably late in the game, and it was not until the final 10 seconds, with UConn up by 5 points, that I was sure we had won.

Last year's peonies.
I guess it is time for me to dig deep and find my energy too. I know it is not far away because it was easy to find on that first spring-like day. That energy must be hiding in there somewhere buried under five inches of snow and obscured by my cold symptoms, but working its magic nonetheless, so that soon it will poke through the surface like peonies in the spring time and all things will again seem possible.

I just need to find that switch.

Today I am grateful for the power of symbols. As part of her response to the earthquake in Japan and its disastrous aftermath, Ellen began a project to make 1000 Origami cranes, a Japanese symbol of peace. She has made nearly 600 now in various colors and sizes. I hope this act brings her some measure of peace as she deals with a crisis in a place that she loves.

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