Nyad the Naiad: Finding Play at the Extreme End of Competition

Nyad the Naiad: Finding Play at the Extreme End of Competition

The Greeks imagined three kinds of water nymphs: Oceanids inhabited seas, ponds, lakes, and springs; Nereids swam in the deep salt water particularly the Aegean; and Naiads made their homes in fresh water streams, and even in wells and fountains. That Diana Nyad, journalist, radio commentator, ranked professional squash player, and most notably, endurance swimmer,…

The Tree House of the August Moon: Play and Solace in the Carmel Valley

The Tree House of the August Moon: Play and Solace in the Carmel Valley

At home in the Carmel Valley, I enjoy a view of the steep ridge that holds the flood plain that the Carmel River (only truly a fast-flowing river in springtime) has cut into the rock. At points the shale is so friable you can dig into it with your bare fingers. The geologic past is…

Knocked Cold and Loving It

Knocked Cold and Loving It

The opening of NFL training camp put me in mind of an encounter in a different field. On a routine doctor visit, I was answering the usual questions. “Do you smoke?” the doctor asked.  I said, “no.” “Never did?” she persisted. “Nope,” I replied. “And never will?” she asked meaningfully, leaning forward. A little weary…

Tanking the Game: Scheming and Disgrace at the Olympics

Tanking the Game: Scheming and Disgrace at the Olympics

I can’t pretend to care much about genteel Victorian pastimes. Bar skittles? Not a fan. Shove halfpenny? The game won’t get me going. Quoits? Shuffleboard? Zzzzzzzzzz…. But I will admit to amazement when watching Olympic badminton, resurrected from that bygone era, but startlingly athletic in its modern materialization. Engineers describe the shuttlecock, the feathered conical…