Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you.  

Gratitude Day 806

Some people love winter.

God bless their little souls.

And then, there are the rest of us.

It’s not that I completely dislike winter. It just seems to me that a little warmer makes a huge difference. It feels like it has been more than a month of Sundays since we’ve had a FULL DAY of sun in Wisconsin this winter. Seriously. That little ball of yellow that warms the skin and brightens the day?

She has gone all incognito this winter in Wisconsin.

Last winter, Hubby Rick retired. He decided to try something new: curling.

Who knew that Columbia County, Wisconsin has more curling clubs than anywhere else in the U.S.? In the county where were we living. Right in Columbia County. Curling comes from Scottish heritage. It is popular in this county because of the Scots who settled in the area. Within 15 miles of our Poynette house, there are FIVE curling clubs. A person who loves curling can curl nearly every day of the week and probably twice on several days a week.

Olympic curling participants have come from Poynette and the surrounding community. The high school curling team has a stellar record and either the boys or girls teams have won the last couple of years. Curling is part of the heritage, woodwork and an important thread of the community.

In case you aren’t completely familiar with curling, here’s the basics. Curling involves sliding a 40ish pound stone down a sheet of ice towards the “house.” Usually, there are four players on a team and each team throws eight stones per “end.” There are eight ends in a match. (Or game? I’m not sure.) The team that has the stone(s) the closest to the middle circle in the house scores points.

How difficult can that be? Well, if you think you can become an Olympic curler overnight, let me clue you in. You can’t.

With last winter being Hubby Rick’s first year curling AND it was also the year of the Winter Olympics, lots of curling graced our television screen last February. He watched their strategy and the way they approached the game. And yes, even Olympic curlers make mistakes.

Hubby Rick enjoyed curling last winter until he had a little farm accident and broke a few ribs. His curling season ended early.

Last fall, we talked with two of our couple friends. They decided that they would like to try curling. One couple curled years ago. The other couple, like me, had never put their hand on a stone before. We met with a local curling expert at the curling club just a block from our Poynette house and “threw” a few stones. We concluded that we could put together a team of four every Friday morning for the next few months out of the six of us.

The team captain is called the “skip.” On our first day curling this season, it was Rick and the three of us who had no clue of what we were doing. Naturally, Rick was quickly elected the skip. The other three of us made it very clear to the team that we were playing that this was our very first time. Almost everyone on the competing team had curled about 50 years. Each.

I am not exaggerating.

Just to be clear, curling is not just sliding a stone down a sheet of ice. It’s knowing how much “weight” to put on the stone, which determines how far and fast the stone goes. Quickly, it also became apparent that trying to get the stone to “curl” takes more than a bit of practice. The stone has a handle on it. When you throw the stone, you have the handle in the opposite direction that you want it to curl. All this farm girl could think about is how getting the stone to curl in the desired direction is like turning the front wheels on the tractor in the opposite direction when trying to back a two-wheel wagon or manure spreader.

I am not proficient at either.

Each time it was my turn to curl, I would have to humbly ask a man on the other team what direction I should turn the handle. As the skip, Rick was at the other end of the ice. My teammates knew no more than I did. Thankfully, the people on the other team were committed to helping us newbies learn the art of curling.

That first week? We stopped keeping score after a while. It was impossible for our amateur team to catch the team with something like 200 years of curling experience.

A couple weeks later, I was back on the ice with Hubby Rick. Our team members had a medical emergency and had to cancel at the last minute. Remember the guy who let us throw those practice shots? He was our skip.

Curling is a gentleman’s game, which means everyone shakes hands before and after the game. Each time I threw a stone, the two skips at the other end of the ice had some banter between themselves. It was not because of my awesome shots. It was more likely a gaff between the two about the newbie’s wild and once-in-awhile less than amazing throws. This was confirmed when the skip from the other team told me after the game that I had some “interesting” throws.

I was just glad most of my stones didn’t wipe out a stone on the neighboring sheet of ice where two other teams were playing.

Unfortunately, my curling days were short-lived. Now that we have moved out of Poynette, we are no longer able to walk the one block to the curling club and strap on our egos for another round of shellacking by a more experienced curling team. I must say: our team should get lots of brownie points for celebrating any throw that was a somewhat close shot. We were simply excited when the stone seemed to go somewhat in the direction we wanted it to.

So, why am I share this rather humbling story about my short-lived and rather unimpressive curling career? Here’s why.

  • For some people, winter can feel daunting and long. We miss hours of sunlight and being able to leave the house with only one or two layers. Finding a winter sport or activity can help give you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be curling. Just find something that gets you in a new environment.
  • We are never too old to try something new. I hoped that my enthusiasm of being at the curling club and celebrating when a stone got within a foot of where I wanted it to go offset my tremendous lack of technical skills. Doing this gave me inspiration to not be afraid to try something different. Old dogs can learn new tricks.
  • It was never really about the curling. The idea of doing something with our friends for a couple hours once a week was alluring. Being able to meet some new people was great. Curling was simply the catalyst for this to happen.
  • Too often, we let fear keep us from trying something new. “I won’t be good enough,” we tell ourselves. Or “What if I am terrible?” Be terrible! Be not good enough! Please do not let fear limit possibilities. I looked at all those people who have curled for years and let fear get the best of me. I just hope that seeing a new face who wasn’t afraid at the curling rink brought a smile to someone else’s face.

What is something that you are letting fear stop you from doing? Something you have dreamed about or simply wanted to try? Pick up that stone. Throw it down a slippery sheet of ice. Ask for help when you don’t know what to do. (Something I encourage our grandkids to do. It was not lost on me that this was my time to ask for help.) Do it joyfully and most everyone will be gracious towards you.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a curling club within 30 minutes of our new-to-us house. I am confident both Hubby Rick and I will seek out something in our new community that will allow us to meet new people, try something different and find joy in a new venture. It may take a minute for me to figure this out. Rick already has his sights set on his next new sport: pickleball. Stay tuned for this next up-and-coming story.

For the inspiration to try something new and not let fear get in the way, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Loving God – Too often, we let our own fear stop us from doing something that we wished we could do. May we hear your words again: “Fear not, for I am with you.” Encourage us to try that something that we have put off or been afraid to try. You, and others, will be with us. Amen.

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