Lawn Sports

I have written before about my desire to start a croquet association of Malawi.  Croquet is the best – it takes minimal exertion, minimal athletic skill, and minimal concentration.

Previous Croquet Results (came in 2nd)

Again, came in 2nd

Setting up a shot

 My ideal game of croquet:  it’s a beautiful day, I know Sandy’s going to win anyway so the pressure is off, I hit a few good shots, have a few good friends playing with us, and a gin and tonic in hand.

I’ve actually gotten pretty good at hitting the croquet mallet with one hand, G&T in the other.

Croquet also gives you real insight into the people you’re playing with – it’s a very civilized game until your friend knocks your ball.  Then this lovely, kind, person turns on you with a glint in her eye and knocks the crap out of your ball so that you’re chasing it down through the tea fields.  It takes you 424 strokes to get back to the lawn and another 6 to get back to where everyone else is playing.

Clem lining up her retribution shot

We’ve written about Huntington House as one of the best places for lawn games.  Two weeks ago we got to go back and played marathon croquet.  Sandy won every game, but we put in a good effort.

Being very civilized

We also played cricket!  Cricket is another fantastic lawn sport -especially the way we played – with a child’s bat, a tennis ball, and a forgiving umpire.

Bowling - yep, that's how you're supposed to do it

The truth is I could never really get my head around cricket.  (This won’t surprise those of you who know I still don’t understand how tennis is scored.  Love-30?  How can that possibly mean something?  Match? Set? Game? Ugh!)  Cricket is a slow, complicated game and as far as I can tell, the only people who watch it are the people who’ve been watching it since childhood.  Everyone else would rather watch paint dry.  But the true fans understand the rules innately.  When you ask a question about why that guy is running there while that other guy is doing that they look at you surprised and say “but that’s just how it’s done.”

Clem at bat

Luckily, all of this cricket playing coincided with a girl’s cricket clinic fundraiser that Clem organized last weekend.  Our instructor, Pommie, was a real-life cricket star from Zimbabwe.  He was able to simplify the game for us and teach us a few moves.  It was a great experience because (1) our cricket instructor Pummie was utterly – and I mean utterly charming and (2) we got to play with about 60 girls from one of the townships – they ranged in age from 6 – 16 and were amazing.  They immediately put all of us to shame with their athleticism.

Ready to learn Cricket

Sandy ready to play

So cricket and croquet are all well and good – very English and very dignified.  But a few weeks ago, we felt that we needed to take lawn sports to a new level – (and a more American level) –


Our friends picked it up quickly (which is good since every American pre-schooler knows how to play) and we had a few games.  Again, with kickball, it’s easy to see people’s innate competitiveness come out and there were definitely some illegal open field tackles.

Kickball on the beach - with an audience

Lawn sports have become an integral part of weekends away.  I love them because they are simplified, shorter versions of the original game and it really doesn’t matter how good you are.  With all of the different nationalities coming together, we get a great mish-mash of sports that adapt to the people and the terrain.

In our time here, we have turned beautiful lawns or beaches into a football field, a rugby field, a soccer pitch, an Australian football field, a 5 hole par three golf course, a badminton court, a tennis court, a tee-ball field, an Irish hurling pitch, a baseball field, a kickball field, a cricket -whatever-you-call-the-place-where-you-play-cricket, a croquet course, and an improvisational Olympic stadium.


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8 responses to “Lawn Sports

  1. Lovely writing and photos. Thanks!

  2. meliss

    Kate! Your mama taught us how to play croquet at Sweetgrass on the 4th of July. Of course, she totally destroyed us with her mad skills! Jeff said that he couldn’t focus on the game for the fear of snakes in the grass….whatever! 😉 Can’t wait to play lots of lawn sports with you guys over the holidays! XOXO

  3. Barbara Jones

    What fun!!!! Good writing and photos once again! I do think your mom knows how to play croquet and the backyard at Sweetgrass would be great for it. I don’t think Oakley will enjoy it though and I would anticipate HER trying to go after the balls……..

  4. Dotty DeCardy

    Keep up the good work. You will have these memories forever. I spent a year in Japan and have traveled to China (Shanghai) 3 times. I’m 74 and will never, never forget the memories from being in those wonderful places.

  5. margaret

    Think Sandy needs to add “climbing the greasy pole” to lawn games. He always made it to the top in Montreat on July 4th!!! Excited to see you both over the New Year!!!

  6. WOW!! I still am stunned this keeps happening again and again in this day and age. I am so glad I was not jogging. We have asked for the future. I will follow the change in the future.

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