June 10, 2017

In the Early Morning Rain

I am not a morning person.

But for the right motivation, I will get up early, have Gershon drop me off downtown, and stand in the rain to watch dragon boats racing.

Lexi has been getting really into this sport, and I have wanted to go see it, but circumstances keep conspiring against me.  But today I was going to do it, no matter what.  And it was well worth my while.

We figured out a plan for me to attend the race and still get to a Bar Mitzvah later in the morning.  Well, SOME of the plan worked out....

Since I've never seen any part of this sport before, it was all new and fascinating to me. My first job was to find Lexi's team, the Valkyries.  Many teams have official-looking names printed on their tents... many with Viking elements, or river-puns. The Valkyries sign wasn't up yet, so I wandered around a little. Eventually I found them, and THEN they put up their sign.

In Portland, most teams are all-women, with a few mixed teams sprinkled in. I have no idea why; I'm sure somebody knows. But the result is an amazing female-dominated sport. I watched hundreds of incredibly powerful athletes prepare for their races... by putting on makeup (war-paint) and special jewelry, and braiding each other's hair!  Lexi wasn't thrilled when I said it was "cute." That was the wrong word, but it was truly very touching. Women give each other moral support in a special way.

Of course, it's a whole world I know nothing about. It's a Viking thing, so there are Viking elements everywhere. Also references to water, like those incredible fish-scale leggings. Some of the teams are cancer survivors, which is very inspiring. 

Like any sport, there's a lifetime of practice involved. Often this is made possible through the loving support of family members. I loved seeing husbands, children, and parents of the athletes cheering them on. It's hard to see, but the hands in the lower left of this photo are family members cheering madly as our team grabs that flag.

It's also interesting to watch a team sport which is entirely about the team. There are not any stars; there can't be. Since my own (spectator) experience with sports has mainly focused on basketball and track, this is a new concept to me. I can see why she loves it. While you do explore your own capability, you are very much part of a spiritual whole.

The races ran later than planned, and I completely missed the Bar Mitzvah. I felt bad about that, but it was a memorable experience which I won't soon forget.

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