When my writer’s group selected “Rites of Spring” to be our writing topic all I could think of was a vision of young maidens dancing around a Maypole with flowers intertwined in their hair. Not really enough to write about as that only took about 20 words. What I needed was some additional substance that I could expand to maybe about 1000 words.
Okay, the next thing that came to my mind was the memory of a college Spring Break in Daytona Florida in 1993. At that time I was living in the overpriced community of Lighthouse Point which is on the water on the Eastern coast of Florida between Ft Lauderdale and Boca Raton.
That spring my son, (who was the 29 at that time and working for Motorola in Boyton Beach, Florida) and I rode our motorcycles from my house about 175 miles up the coast to Daytona Beach, Florida for the Daytona Motorcycle Speed Week. We were going this time because my son who then actively into motorcycle road racing was going to ride in three races (2 X 250cc events and 1 x 125cc event) at the Daytona Speedway.
I, unfortunately, waited too long to make hotel reservations as I did not realize that the Speed Week and College Spring Break overlapped that year. The only rooms left anywhere were expensive suites, so I decided to bite the bullet and take a second-floor suite at the Marriott Hotel that overlooked the swimming pool and looked out onto the beach. One of the perks of that was we got a nice, secure underground parking space for our motorcycles. FYI I was driving a one-year-old Harley Davidson Sportster that had a heavily modified engine, and my son was driving a Ducati 750 SuperSport with also a lot of motor and chassis upgrades. We did not want to lose either of them, and motorcycle thefts at the Speedweek were a legend.
We knew that overlooking the pool we would see a lot of mischiefs by the rambunctious and drunken college kids including probably a lot of wet tee shirt contests and we were not disappointed. Every evening around 5:00 PM there was a contest less than 50 feet from out balcony. The thing that surprised us there the most was the “Dick Flop” contest. What the heck do you ask is a “Dick Flop contest? I can assure you it is more bizarre and stupid than anything you can imagine.
It is a contest where male college students with the ribald encouragement of those watching on, climb up to the top of the highest diving board, pull their bathing suits down below their knees and then do a belly flop. Oh man, that has to hurt!
No, I have no idea how the contest was judged, who was a winner or losers and how they were chosen but I suspect it was determined primarily on physical manly attributes as the audience was mostly female and if nothing else they were the most vocal of those watching. You can hardly imagine what sort of comments and catcalls were being shouted out.
Anyhow that was the highlight of the Rites of Spring that we observed there. I wish I had taken pictures of the boys like a lot of the girls were doing and sent them off somehow to their parents. Can you imagine what they would have to say about it?
OK, that is 560 words done, so what else to write about?
According to the New Thesaurus “Rite” also means Ritual and yes each spring we do have a lot of rituals. The first ritual is Daylight Savings Time and setting all the clocks forward. That doesn’t sound too tough until realizing how many of those we have. We have the clock on the stove, on the coffee maker, on the microwave, on the thermostat, on the sprinkler control, three alarm clocks and my wife and I also must have at least five watches each. And then let’s not forget the clocks in the two cars and the truck.
This was even made more complex and messy for us this year as we were in Tucson at the time and they don’t follow Daylight Savings Time there, so it was very confusing when we came back.
The next ritual we have each year is getting our final Spring ski in. That is one of our dumber rituals as less than one time out of four that we do that are the skiing conditions enjoyable. Typically the surface is either too icy or slushy and just not good skiing. Yesterday up at Snowy Range it was even worse. It was ice broken up by the snowcats into ice cube size chunks and then frozen together and covered up by about an inch of snow. Not only could you not get a bite with your skiis, you also couldn’t even see what you were skiing on. It sucked! We only managed to complete one run before quitting and even on that, my wife a good skier, fell twice.
The next ritual is starting up the sprinkler system. This can take only 45 minutes or could take up to several hours depending on how many sprinkler heads my gardener managed to destroy in the Fall while aerating the yard. If I am lucky, all it entails is closing a few drain valve, opening the water valve and then cycling through each of the zones and checking out the sprinkler heads while keeping my fingers crossed.
The next ritual is changing out the wardrobe. Swapping out the cold weather clothes for the warm weather ones. This usually takes me almost all day and a couple of drinks as I am always confounded that even though I know, all the clothes came from those same drawers and closet, nothing ever seems to fit back. Also, it always amazes me how many damn tee shirts I have. I would like to throw some of them away but I can’t. Most are from countries and resorts we visited over the years, and there are too many good memories involved, and of course, I can never throw away my Marine Corp tee shirts as I still wear them to the gym with pride.
The last ritual I can think of is getting our trailer out of storage and un-winterizing it. Getting it ready for all the rallies and trips that we take typically from May through November. That usually is a two-day process as we first bring the trailer out of storage, after checking the pressure in the tires, close up all the water drain valves, check the electrolyte level in the batteries, and then make sure the lights and everything inside works. Also since I am a little anal, that means after a good washing, applying a coat of wax to the whole trailer and that is when I start thinking about getting a smaller trailer.
And that folks are my Rites of Spring in 1200 words, my thoughts, my memories and the things I have to do.