Saturday, December 9, 2017

Walking With Sticks

In my hiking group, the Trail Hikers, there are two schools of thought regarding “walking sticks.”  Many feel that “walking sticks” are very useful.  They aid in walking.

Others feel that “walking sticks” are an affectation.  More than that, they can be a hindrance.  They are something that distracts one from concentrating on their footing.  I can attest to that, so I subscribe to this opinion.  One time going downhill on a rocky terrain and using a “walking stick”, it was the stick that caused me to trip up.  It was like I had too many legs and feet.  Somehow or other, the stick was caught between my legs, or in the way of my foot, or whatever!  I tumbled down the boulder.  And I almost speared myself with that “walking stick.”  I think it did blacken my eye. 
I swore, “never again!”  I climbed back up that huge boulder and flung that “walking stick” into the netherworld.

Well, that was quite a while ago.  Yesterday, on a hike around the Blackstone River and Canal, a stick on the ground, called me by name.  I picked it up.  I was perfect for my height.  The end I used for the bottom had some sort of configuration of three branch stumps.  It’s hard to explain but picture a “hurry cane.”  It was a “hurry cane” made by nature.  I thought I’d give the “walking stick” another chance.  After all, I believe in “second chances,” and “thirds,” and “fourths”…

The walk was pleasant.  There were fourteen of us that day, eight men and six ladies.  It was an easy hike.  As we chatted and walked along, the person in front of me stopped and shouted, “Be careful—scat*!”   I did almost put my foot in it.  I didn’t want that to happen to anyone, so I took my “natural hurry cane” and using it like a hockey stick, I took a slapshot** and sent that scat* into a dead zone somewhere.

                      Maybe “walking sticks” are beneficial, after all.

Eventually, another opportunity presented itself.  This time, my slapshot** hit the scat* even further into another world.  I was feeling pretty happy about myself, the world, “walking sticks,” and even scat*

The hikers took a break at Look Out Rock.  We also ate our trail mix and drank water.  This respite was good rejuvenation before the hike back down.climbed up the rock formation and looked out.  The sight was a panoramic view of the Blackstone River winding its way through the Blackstone Valley.  Spectacular!  I took out my iPhone and took pictures.

Somewhere, near the end of the trail, I realized something.  My “natural hurry cane” was gone.  I must have left it behind on Look Out rock.  “Oh well, I didn’t spend a money on it.  Maybe I’m just not meant to have a “walking stick.”  It’s not meant to be.”

But I have to admit; it was a damn good stick for slap-shooting** scat*.

* SCAT = Animal feces.
** Slapshot = A slapshot (also spelled as slap shot) is an ice hockey term for one of the hardest hits one can perform. It has four stages which are executed in one fluid motion to make the puck fly into the net:
  1. The player winds up his hockey stick to shoulder height or higher.
  2. Next the player violently "slaps" the ice slightly behind the puck and uses his weight to bend the stick, storing energy in it like a spring. This bending of the stick gives the slapshot its amazing speed. Just like a bow and arrow, the stick's tendency to return to being straight is transferred to the puck, giving it much more speed than just hitting it alone could.
  3. When the face of the stick blade strikes the puck, the player rolls his wrists and shifts his weight so that the energy stored in the stick is released through the puck.
  4. Finally, the player follows through, ending up with the stick pointed towards the desired target.
The slapshot is harder than other shots and, because of the violent motion involved.

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