I don’t mind the change of seasons in New England.
In fact, I kind of love it. I enjoy the variation of landscape and temperature. I appreciate the anticipation of one season beyond the next. I adore the way a crisp autumn day or a hot, breezy summer afternoon can feel so precious because you know things are constantly, inexorably moving forward and away and ultimately back to their original positions.
But as the winter months approach, it’s the loss of golf that I hate the most, and I feel it approaching. Winter is gaining steam. The cold is coming. Things are on the cusp of changing.
This past weekend, I played golf.
Nine holes on Friday afternoon with a friend.
Nine more holes early Saturday morning with three friends.
Nine more holes early Sunday morning with four friends.
I was finished playing on Friday by 5:00 PM. I was finished playing on Saturday and Sunday by 10:00 AM.
I wasn’t gone long. My family barely noticed my absence. Nevertheless, I spent time in the splendor of fall foliage, manicured landscapes, and stunning beauty.
I received all the benefits of walking 3-4 miles with a bag of golf clubs strapped to my back. All the benefits of spending time outdoors in nature.
Most importantly, I spent time with friends. We told stories. Laughed. Competed. Consoled. Cajoled. Mocked. Insulted. Counseled. Created memories.
All the things that friends can do when walking and talking and playing a game together.
The winter steals it all away.
Already some of my friends are complaining about the chilly morning temperatures. Knit caps have appeared in the heads of some. We’ve already been delayed once by frost.
Winter is coming.
For months, my life will be absent of the beauty of a golf course. The splendor of time spent playing a game I love with friends who have come to mean so much to me.
I love the change of seasons. I adore the beauty of New England in each of its stunning transformations.
But I’ll miss golf when the land is covered by snow and ice and it becomes impossible to play.
I’d like to say that this is good, too. That just like the crisp, fall day or the hot, breezy summer afternoon, it’s the loss of golf for months at a time that makes it feel so precious when it returns.
But that’s not true.
Golf is always precious. It never feels any less so. Time spent with friends in competition and conversation is always just as precious as the last time.
Soon it will be gone. At least for a while.
It makes wintering in Florida almost seem palatable.