CFB Downsview, the sixties. Sitting, bored and cranky, behind the glass watching my parents indulge in the sport they were passionate about. Another weekend at the club, another waste of time. There was no junior curling at this club, so we kids basically babysat ourselves. We were curling orphans.
"I will never, ever play this stupid sport," I vowed, images of endless afternoons and inattentive parents stamped in my memory.
Fast forward thirty years, to a young family moving to a new town. It's in the Ottawa Valley where winter comes early and lasts for month after cold, snowy month. How do people pass the time? They curl. Every town has its two-sheeter, or four-sheeter, or something bigger and fancier. Bonspiels abound every weekend from Halloween to Easter, and beyond. And there are two draws every night during the week (with games sometimes starting a bit late because we have to wait for the farmers to get in from milking). Winter passes in a flurry of social events, bonspiels, challenges for trophies and prizes - and the realization that my parents weren't crazy after all.
Curling. Most of us will never make it to the Brier or the Hearts or the World Championships or the Olympics. But who cares? We're all curlers, no matter what level we achieve. Every one of those champions - Canadian or international - started playing the game at the same place we did: the grassroots.
My grassroots curling was a friendly, competitive two-sheet club in a small Ottawa Valley town. What's yours?