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Speedy took up golf in about 1999 when a knee injury prematurely ended his tennis career. After several years of diletanttish play he became rather more serious when we moved to Italy. The course in Rapallo is beautiful, and Speedy made some lovely friends there. He became even more serious in his pursuit of good play when he finished all the hard physical work of redoing our home. In no time at all golf became his ‘work,’ a job to which he dedicated 5 days every week, a schedule to which he still adheres, both in Italy and here in Arizona.

What’s a poor Expatriate to do? The term ‘golf widow’ suddenly had a compelling resonance for me. The obvious solution was to take up the game myself, thereby giving myself an opportunity to share in my husband’s passion AND to have some quality time with him every week.

Here is what I quickly learned.  Golf is a tremendously difficult game. It’s no big deal to learn the basics, but to be able to apply them with any consistency is nigh on impossible. In addition, once one becomes interested in improving, the old brain kicks in and plays one trick after another. It’s just plain hard. Or, as the sage said, “It’s a cruel game.”

I also learned that it’s a game I’ll never feel passionate about; it’s difficult for me to stay engaged with something that offers such paltry rewards compared to the time and effort demanded. I’m not a good golfer, and never will be; Speedy says I could be good if I were willing to practice every day. Oh well.

However, here is what I love about golf: golf courses. Once a scoffer, I used to think that golf courses were a tremendous waste of resources, both of land and of money. But you know, you won’t find many better places to walk than a well-maintained golf course. And walk we do. For a while at our old golf course we would split a golf cart, each walking 9 holes; but now, both here and in Italy, we walk all 18 holes. There are frequently lovely views and, if there’s water present, as there almost always is, there will be an interesting variety of animals and birds.

Here, in no particular order, is an album of photos of wildlife and vistas snapped between and around tees and greens. While it may be true that ‘golf is a good walk spoiled,’ it remains true that it is a Good Walk. While I’m an ambivalent golfer, I am passionate about the walking.

First, let’s set the scene. Here’s the view down the 7th fairway in Rapallo with the remnants of a 16th century monastery on the other side of the green:

Giammi hits from the sand at #7; valle Christi

Painted Mountain in Mesa has a forest of palm trees:

sunset over painted mountain golf courseOver Thanksgiving we visited friends in Utah. How can anyone concentrate on a golf game when these are the views the course offers?

view from Provo golf course-001view on provo golf courseLake Utah and mountains-001I didn’t even try to play that day.

Now for some fauna:

Rabbits at Painted Mountain

Rabbits at Painted Mountain

IMG_4387

Peach faced lovebirds at Painted Mountain

Mama duck with her babies, Rapallo

Mama duck with her babies, Rapallo

A muskrat (?) in Utah

A muskrat (?) in Utah

Geese overhead in Utah

Geese overhead in Utah

Remember when geese used to migrate? Now they just hang around the golf courses year-round, which makes for interesting footing if your ball lands near the water.

Goose and mallard, Mountain Brook

Goose and mallard, Mountain Brook

This white goose has been protecting the male mallard with a broken wing for several weeks now. They are inseparable.

True love, mallard style, Mountain Brook

True love

Speaking of inseparable, it’s getting to be that time of year. Is there any place on earth where mallards don’t thrive?

A blue heron and an egret are resident at Mountain Brook and can be found fishing in the course ponds every day.

great blue flies away great blue fishing white egret and duck

Sometimes your scribe is just not quite quick enough trying to catch an action shot:

egret leaves

coots-001

Coots at Mountain Brook

widgeons-002

Widgeons at Mountain Brook

 

cormorants and widgeons

Cormorants dry their wings pondside at Mountain Brook

hawk on a wire

Hawk on a Mountain Brook wire – hunting for rabbits?

Large gold carp

Large gold carp at Mountain Brook

Deer come to the course 'meadows' in the early evening

Deer come to the course ‘meadows’ in the early evening

Perhaps the rarest sighting of all occurred this very evening – I saw reindeer. No, I really did! And I was able to get a photo of them.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!