So the calendar has turned, 2010 has given way to 2011 and time marches inexorably onward. But what a fantastic finish to the year.
In my last column, we were just starting December and it was shaping up to be a big month but little did I know how big it would really be. So much was packed in to those 31 days and it got started on Dec. 1 (my birthday) with my husband asking me how it felt to be —— years old. I put in the dashes because he added a year when he asked the question and, even though that doesn’t sound like much, at my age one year is a major difference so I had to tell him I would let him know how —— felt when I got there. Next year. And I reminded him that he should already know, since he is older. But he’s also a guy and since many of them rarely act their age anyway, my logic was lost on him.
On the work side of things, probably the most fun I’ve had in a while was chronicling the amazing postseason journey of the Escalon Cougars football team all the way to the state Division III championship bowl game. They won the Trans-Valley League title, captured the Section crown and then got the good news that they were the first public school picked to represent Northern California in the D3 contest. We made the long road trip to Carson in Southern California — isn’t there a song about it never raining there? Oh wait, the next line is something about it pouring — and the Cougars were better than the elements and their Madison (San Diego) opponent in a memorable championship-winning effort.
Getting on one of the two ‘Rooter’ buses that made the trip at about 4 a.m. on game day was just the first step in the journey. We had been on McHenry Avenue for less than 10 minutes when a voice wailed from the back of the bus ‘Are we there yet?’ and we all had a good chuckle and settled in for a long ride — some five-plus hours on the road.
Some dozed, some visited, some broke out the breakfast beverages … and we all got a wake up call down around Visalia when a bird flew into the windshield with a resounding thud. The bus survived with no apparent damage but I’m not sure I can say the same for the bird.
It rained almost the entire way there, with only a couple of breaks in the clouds. The same held true for the game and I very quickly gave up the idea of taking notes when I couldn’t read a thing I’d written after about two pages of ink smears through raindrops.
By the end of the first quarter everything was soaked and it was a running battle just to keep my camera lens wiped off enough to get some photos. My boots soaked up about 10 pounds of water, my rain poncho didn’t actually prevent my other coat from getting wet but for the most part, it really didn’t matter. Not when I looked up at the scoreboard and saw the number consistently growing bigger on the Escalon side. It ended as a 30-14 win for the Cougars, a great victory for the community and, more so, for public schools that put together a team with what they’ve got naturally, not like the private schools that go in with who they can recruit to put a winner on the field.
Football over, the holidays were fast approaching and so, too, was a long awaited visit from my daughter’s friend Jordan from Arizona, who arrived the day after Christmas. She was amazed that there were cows in town (well, not the middle of F Street in Oakdale, but pretty close) and the poor thing was freezing, I’m not sure she took her jacket off the entire time she was here. If I had been brave enough to make the drive, we might have tried to visit Yosemite but with snow levels falling and rock slides happening, it just seemed safer to put that trip on hold until Jordan comes for another visit —maybe in the summer when it’s not quite so cold here. The girls were both on holiday break, kept holiday hours, slept in, enjoyed texting each other while they were standing right next to each other or were just in the next room and took countless photos. They spent an incredible amount of time doing their hair, and an equal amount of time giggling, sometimes until the early morning hours. Only once did I have to holler at my daughter to keep it quiet and then it just seemed so wrong to tell them to stop laughing. We need more of that, not less. Just maybe not at 1:30 a.m. when adults in the house do have to get up for work the next day.
It was rainy, windy and very cold nearly every day of Jordan’s weeklong stay, but her visit was something they have both been looking forward to and it was fun for my daughter to have a friend here to make the long holiday break go by faster. This year, in fact, she counted down the ‘days until Jordan’ instead of the ‘days until Christmas.’
We also shared the holidays with my sister’s family — heading over for our traditional Christmas gathering on New Year’s Eve. My sister and I both put off the majority of our shopping for each other’s family until after Christmas so there we were, texting each other the day before we were going to get together to check out sizes, color preferences, and the like. Hey, at least we made sure we got things right … not to mention on holiday clearance!
New Year’s arrived on schedule and now we get started on a brand new year and decade. Happy 2011!
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.