Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: Weird weather calls for improvisation

February 14, 2014 

Ah, that's more like it.

The sun's shining once again and the temperatures are climbing into the 60s.

In fact, the Chattahoochee Valley's almost as warm as Sochi.

The enduring image from the current Winter Olympics has been workers spraying water and spreading salt on the half pipe in a futile attempt to keep Shaun White from complaining.

Everybody, including workers, officials and athletes, seems bewildered by the prospect of competing in winter sports in less-than-wintry temperatures.

Sure, the committee could have chosen another location, but that would have been too easy.

Instead, the committee should have brought in some Southerners -- you know, from American states like Georgia and Alabama -- to take charge of the games.

First, we'd have been impressed with just the sight of snow, and we'd probably have run to the nearest O'KEY or Ramstore -- those are Russian supermarket chains -- and bought up all the milk and eggs. Also, the kids would have loved us because we'd have suggested shutting down all the schools.

But in addition to a general sense of hysteria, we'd also have brought a spirit of improvisation to the games.

That's because we're never prepared for snow. We don't have skis and sleds in our garages. And even if we did, we probably wouldn't have enough snow to use them.

So we improvise.

I remember when I was a boy living in Alabama and woke up to snow on the ground. My brother and I went out to the storage shed behind our house and found some large plastic chemical jugs. We sawed them in half and took them to the nearest hill, but the snow was too slushy. It was Sochi slushy.

My dad came out and asked if we were having fun in the snow, and we said no because our improvised sleds wouldn't budge in the slush.

So my dad went to the storage shed and found some ski ropes. He tied them to the back of his pickup truck, told us to climb in our chemical jugs, and then tossed us each a ski rope with a handle at the end.

We spent an hour being pulled down gravel roads behind an F-150. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Then we ditched the truck and hiked to the steepest hill on our property, down by the lake, where we happened to have a cow named Spot inside an electric fence.

The snow was slushy there, too, but the hill was so steep that the jugs kept moving, and it was challenging because Spot would get excited and charge at you, and if you survived Spot, then at the bottom of the hill you had to duck under the electric fence and then decide if you wanted to tip yourself over or go into the lake, which was topped with a thin sheet of ice.

Now that was exciting.

I think Shaun White would have had more fun this week if the organizers had improvised like good Southerners and put a cow, a pickup truck, an electric fence and a water obstacle on the half pipe.

I think he'd have taken gold, but we'll never know.

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, dkholmes@ledger-enquirer.com.

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