Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Shock

It's two days since the Super Bowl, and it's fair to say New England remains in a state of super shock.

As I wrote a few days ago, I took a trip to central Massachusetts to watch the game with a friend and former media partner in Rhode Island. Central Massachusetts is a beautiful region -- rolling hills and small tracts of farmland cut by the Connecticut River, a wide-brimmed body of water that has long since set the geological tone of this area. My friend Av and his family live in an old farmhouse within spitting range of the river. He says the Connecticut is a major bird migratory route, and they've seen a whole assortment of birds: falcons, hawks, cardinals, juncos, tufted titmouses and more. I'm quite jealous. The Connecticut and Av's country homestead are magnets for all sorts of visitors, far more than we could dream in our patch of land in the heart of our town.

There were still several inches of snow on the ground when I arrived on Sunday afternoon, and the lake across the road from their home had ice thick enough to walk on. By contrast, there is no snow in Rhode Island, and the lakes still haven't gotten enough ice cover to be safe to walk on or fish. You miss those things, because that's how February should be. Cold, with snow and thick ice on lakes. Fronts with powerful names like Alberta Clipper and Nor'easter. Instead, we have rain and temperatures in the 50s. Too spring like for my tastes.

So, I went to visit Av to catch up and to watch the big game. I took the bus to Amherst, a vibrant town pulsing with faculty and students. This area is known as academic central. Everywhere you turn, in every town in this area, over every litle ridge and in every narrow valley is a college of some sort. University of Massachusetts-Amherst, flagship campus of the state school system. Mount Holyoke College. Amherst College. Hampshire College. Smith College. I'm sure there are more. The NPR affiliate is called Five College Radio, reflecting the identity of the area and likely its core listeners. Education and a not-so-faint whiff of entitlement reside here. I wonder where the workers live.

Still, it's a beautiful area, rich in history, intellect and nature. I feel enlivened when I visit, comfortable in the small-town atmosphere and its slower gear. It suits me well. Perhaps one day I will come for more than a visit.

Well, I won't dwell on the game here. My students have done that already. Their ears fall deaf when I tell them that sports is entertainment and not to take it too seriously. Then again, I can't blame them; I took sports way too seriously when I was their age, and my emotions marched in step with my teams' performances. Silly way to live, really.

Some of the adults at Rafters apparently haven't gotten the memo. They were heavily invested in the game. When Av and I took seats at the bar, a brawny, white-haired man still stuck in his glory days snarled at us, thinking we were Giants fans. We told him we weren't, and he was mollified. Back to the car bombs with his buddy, a shaved head plug of a man proudly wearing a silver Patriots jersey with Brady's name stitched on the back. I wonder how much of the game they remember. They were with an Asian lady also wearing a Patriots jersey and who had donned those black stickers under her eyes that athletes wear to cut down on glare. I thought she had done this all in good fun until the game began. She was a raving lunatic of fan, hopping up and down when the Patriots did something well and sulking when they didn't. Then there was the guy who pounded the table with all his might exhorting the Patriots defense, and the other guy doing his best to open a chasm in the floor with his stomping. I watched with amusement, these grownups going batty over the game. Meanwhile, I was pounding on the bar, yelling "Defense!" until my throat hurt, and I was panting between plays.

Guess I cared more than I thought. Or would have cared to admit.


Leeann said...

Seems I remember a certain bald, middle aged man doing the same thing when *we* were kids!


murkury said...

I think I know what would cheer everyone up...a chance meeting with Lance Armstrong!

Lou said...

Well, being down here in Texas and not vested in any particular way, I have to say that it was a *great* game. I don't think anybody expected it to go like it went. I don't mean just the end -- I mean the strong defense by the Giants, the low score, the 4X lead change in the fourth quarter, the strong rally by the Patriots to take the lead with under 3 minutes remaining, and the equally strong comeback with seconds left by the Giants.

I also admit that I like it when the underdog wins. And I think it's very cool that "little brother" Manning matched up and became an equal. And that the game was exciting, unpredictable, and hard-fought.

What a great game.


PS Richard, I'm still and always enjoying your blog. Keep it up, amigo!

Eric said...

That is pure class. I t is so easy to just pas son by and do nothing. I have been slowly training myself to pitch in when passing by garbage but admit it requires forming the habit.

...I'd trade in all the non-smoking laws if they could replace them with a 1 year jail sentence for anyone caught littering their cigarette butts.