What? I am suddenly seeing color again! As the croquet season in the mountains draws to a close I am once again able to enjoy the full abundance of color everywhere.
I have been living in a “whiteout” since May. Before I became an avid croquet competitor, my wardrobe consisted of the latest and greatest of what fashion had to offer (especially since I had owned two women’s boutiques and was addicted to shopping for my stores). But one day I looked up to see my husband parade through the house dressed all in white….from head to toe. My first thought was of a house painter OR perhaps an orderly in an insane asylum… Were they finally “coming to take me away? ha ha hee hee”.
It seems that everywhere I went people were suited up in white…grocery store, restaurants, garden tours, bridge, bible study. White hats, white tops, white pants, white shoes, and, as in every affluent community, white jewelry! (Watch out albino minks if the sport takes off in winter!). I have never seen such an assortment of white outfits, because it doesn’t matter WHAT you have on as long as it is white. Needless to say that makes for some interesting get-ups.
My husband decided that I was going to become a croquet player extraordinaire and catapult us to the club championship. Well,I admit that I play fairly well, but not under pressure. So he decided to pump me up with ” the power of positive thinking” pep talks. He actually woke me up one middle of the night to assure me that “if I would just focus” we could beat any couple in the club and win the championship. (He must have had a lapse in memory as I had to remind him that I had divorced a motivational speaker for putting “goal sheets” on my pillow every New Year’s Day.) We did play in the tournament. We did NOT win. I think I might be the only competitor who scored all the points on both sides. Did I mention that I don’t play we’ll under pressure?
This amazing sensation began in the Smokey Mountains in Highlands, NC when the croquet lawns were built with private funds from Highlands Country Club members against the support of many of the golfing purists in the club. We find now that when golfers, for whatever reason, cease to play golf, they tend to take up croquet. Today many golfers enjoy both games and find they excel in both.
In 1999 there were only 25 members for the HCC “Strikers.” When “Wine and Wickets” was implemented at HCC the Strikers membership exploded to its present count of just under 300. Our club now boasts the largest croquet membership on the mountain plateau! In 2009 the HCC was named “Croquet Club of the Year” and in 2011 named “Outstanding Support of Croquet” award by the US Croquet Association. Today there are10 participating clubs for croquet on the mountain plateau, with almost 1200 members and tentacles reach across the country in all directions because those who play here return and develop the sport in their home towns.
So, as Camp Happy Highlands season comes to an end and the mountains are coming ablaze with fall color, we find ourselves nostalgically making plans to meet our croquet friends in Boca Grande for clinics, cuisine, and, yes, more croquet. This sport has literally taken the mountains and country by storm. Let me warn you though, it is not your old fashioned back yard game played by all of us as children. You remember the one where you placed your foot on your ball and blasted your friend’s ball across town! This game is tough and very strategic AND if you can stay focused, you might just win!