Fun at last

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

“And we’ll have fun, fun, fun until daddy takes the pickle ball away! …. (again), and we’ll have fun, fun, fun, fun … until daddy takes the pickle ball away!!!!”

… I know I’m showing my age by referencing Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, but it’s just that it’s springtime in New England and I’m having a ball – literally. I’m playing pickle ball, America’s fastest growing sport, twice a week, and continue playing “old man tennis” with a longtime friend every weekend. (Old man tennis is my version of regular singles tennis. It’s all the same except I can’t run out all the shots due to osteoarthritis in my right knee. My opponent is older than me but he doesn’t have any knee problems; so we usually just practice hitting the ball back and forth and occasionally play games).

I walk around town and at the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT). The SNETT runs 22 miles from Douglas State Forest to Franklin State Forest and runs through six towns end to end. SNETT is used by plenty of individuals, families and couples through all seasons.

I usually go bicycling with a couple of friends. Last weekend we did the Bruce Freeman Trail in Acton, about 18 miles round trip. (Bruce Freeman was a former local Congressman). It’s a beautiful, well-maintained paved bike path that meanders into Chelmsford and features a small lake and sandy beach about 7.5 miles in from the beginning behind Donelan’s supermarket on Great Road. I just love being outside in nature, enjoying the silence, the majestic trees and shade, the warmth of the sun and the breeze.

Pickle ball is a new game for me; it’s easy to learn, good exercise, while being sociable and downright fun! That’s the part I like: fun. Pickle ball is appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels, but where I play, it’s almost exclusively played by seniors. It can be quite challenging, fast-paced and competitive when one becomes more experienced at playing, adding spins and velocity to the returns.

Pickle ball. What a funny name for a sport. Originally invented over fifty years ago, I’ve read that Pickle was the name of the inventor’s dog. Pickle ball certainly has a more interesting name than baseball, bowling and football. I wonder where their names came from. Growing up in Massachusetts, I remember taking our boys to the Basketball Museum and Hall of Fame one weekend day, learning about the game’s featured stars in an interactive exhibitor with the likes of Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson. Apparently James Naismith, a Springfield (MA) College instructor and graduate student invented basketball in 1891. His students wanted him to call it “Naismith ball”, but he preferred to name is “basketball”.

Being upright and mobile, be it walking or hiking, playing a net game like pickle ball or tennis or even badminton or volleyball, along with bicycling are all a lot of fun as well and allow one to stay healthy. Nothing quite like it compares. Life is good. I envision enjoying Florida during the winter months doing these things as well. Being outside in nature is a joy along with the chipmunks, wild turkeys, squirrels and occasional deer. There were postings at Bruce Freeman Trail to watch out for the occasional black bear and pointed out the importance of not cozying up to a black bear seeking a selfie. Good advise.

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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