A FEW WORDS ON HALF-TIME ON THE RIVER
I still want to maintain that anyone can read any of these poems as he or she wants, but for me, Half-time on the River is one man’s mid-life crisis in 34 lines, and, oddly enough, it all works out well.
The crisis was that, in my 40’s, I realized I could no longer play competitive rugby. When I say competitive, I mean that relatively. Richmond Rugby was a Division II club, which was perhaps a level about recreational rugby. I was never much good. Basil, my coach and mentor once said, “Reyn doesn’t always play well, but he always plays with a lot of zest.” I always emphasize the second half of the statement. I did play with zest; I loved the game.
I never had any real rugby talent, but I did have relatively good speed for recreational rugby. That’s God-given, but God takes it back as you get older, so, as I say in the poem. I’d lost a step I never really had.
So, what to do?
My friend Becky (you’ll see more of her in later poems) suggested kayaking. It looked like fun, but it was much harder than it looks. Even in the calmer lower section of the James River, the current pushes the boat around, and it’s hard to make the boat go straight.
But eventually, I got the hang of it well enough for the lower section of the James (I never did the upper section with class four and five rapids, where people drown).
Choo-Choo is the name paddlers have given to the biggest rapid in the lower section (class 2, maybe 3 depending on the water level). It’s called that because it’s near a railroad trestle across the river. Richmond was a railroad city, which helped us to rebuild quickly after the unpleasantness between 1861 and 1865, when the city burned down.
Choo-Choo is also about halfway between the run from Pony Pasture to Reedy Creek, so it was always a good place to pull out of the river and lie in the sun in the summer or watch the muskrats in the river in the winter.
So that was how I passed my mid-life crisis, giving up the frantic dash to bring the ball back to the forwards for the more gentle contemplation of water, rock and light, waiting for whatever the second half of the game had to show me. Not bad for a mid-life crisis.