Competing in the winter Olympics, Texas style

By Bruce Stambaugh

I have had a long infatuation with the winter Olympics. This year was no exception. In fact, instead of just watching on television, I actually got to compete.

Coupled with the fatigue of the seemingly endless Ohio winter and the desire to visit our Texan grandchildren, my wife and I scheduled a trip to the Lone Star State right in the middle of the winter Olympic games. We were especially eager to see our four-month-old granddaughter, Maren. She was just a week old when I last saw her.

Just what does this have to do with competing in the winter Olympics? Plenty. Given the crazy weather of this weird winter, it didn’t snow in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the Olympics were hosted. But it did snow deep in the heart of Texas.

Of course, like everything else in Texas, it snowed big. At times, the snowflakes were huge. In a location where snow is seldom seen, the accumulation reached up to four inches.

The school kids were ecstatic. When they arrived home from classes, the Texas Winter Olympics were on. The entire neighborhood joined in one event after the other. The only qualifying necessities were to dress warm and have as much fun as possible. The rarity needed to be enjoyed while it lasted, since the snow likely wouldn’t linger in the south central Texas clime.

And have fun we did, including Maren. However, she wisely chose to serve as the beautiful, babbling, blue-eyed commentator from the warmth and safety of her parent’s home.

I felt like a kid again. Often, when the grandkids visited Nana and Poppy in Ohio’s Amish country in the winter, we seldom had snow. Now we were in their southern home territory, and the snow was perfect for any and every kind of wintry game.

The gathered Olympians participated in sledding, snowball throwing, snowman building, and of course the ever popular snow tasting contest. The results, which required no sophisticated judging, were measured in enjoyment rather than technical point calculation.

The lead sledding team, kindergartner Nola and her energetic father, Michael, won that event hands down. They were the only ones on the block with a sled. Even then, they had a rather short slope to navigate, another neighbor’s diminutive front yard.

To no one’s surprise, the snowball throwing drew the most participants and thus was gauged a Texas-sized success. The awards were meted in smiles and laughter rather than shiny medals. Evan, our nearly six-year-old grandson, won the artistic award for creating the most symmetrical snowballs. They were perfectly round and hand-packed hard.

The ever-daring three-and-a-half year old grandson, Davis, ate more snow than he threw. He said it tasted better than ice cream. You never know what those lefties will say.

As for the snowman contest, Poppy was in the lead for most of the way until he realized that the large rolled up snowball was more of a load than he should be pushing. His back disqualified him, and he had to call in reinforcements to complete the job.

Not surprisingly, Davis was a good helper. However, true to form, he wanted to eat the carrot rather than use it for the snowman’s nose.

Next day, when the snow quickly disappeared with Vancouver-like temperatures, the Texas Winter Olympics were declared closed, at least temporarily. With this strange winter weather, it could snow again in Texas. Vancouver could only hope.

Davis and Evan

My grandsons with their Texas snowman. Davis and Evan are on the left.

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