Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SPORTS>>Summertime still beckons despite heat

Leader sportswriter

“Oh, it’s not that hot out there — you’re just being a teeny baby.”

Those were the words from my grandma Bill to me about 30 years ago. It was the summer of 1980, I was seven years old, and yes, it was HOT outside.

But my dear old grandmother was right. I stayed in the heat, drank plenty of Kool-aid (we had no idea what Gatorade was in Floyd back in those days) and got acclimated enough to enjoy an adventure-filled summer of getting beaten up by my brother

Mike and being chased across the yard by my water pistol-wielding cousins.

Ah, the good times — the painful, humiliating good times we had.

I bring that up to remind you that in spite of the triple-digit temperatures we are currently experiencing, the window for getting outdoors and pursuing summertime fun is quickly closing. Before you know it, October will be here with its chilly mornings and evenings, and out will come the jackets and long-sleeve shirts.

Some people can’t get out because of health conditions, which is completely understandable. But for those of you who are sequestered indoors 24 hours a day simply because you don’t want to get hot, refer back to the first line of this column.

There’s plenty to do outside, and some of it can even be done in the shade.

The most obvious activity is fishing. Now, I’m no expert angler. In fact, I have about as much luck with fishing as Leader sports editor Todd Traub has with women.

But then again, I’ve never had a rainbow trout call the police on me and file a restraining order, so maybe it’s not quite that bad.

There are plenty of places to fish in this area, and plenty of different types of fish to pursue. Leader sales executive John Henderson, our resident fishing expert, recommends finding places for fishing which have brushy areas, and also said the end of the month will be good for catfish.

If trout fishing is more your style, the Little Red River is a great year-round getaway.

But fishing can also be done after cooler weather sets in. For me, summer is all about swimming at the lake.

Now, in my younger days, that meant a trip to Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, but more recently, I’ve enjoyed semi-frequent trips to Indian Lake here in the Cabot area. It’s closer, less crowded, and now you can even eat a home-cooked breakfast on the deck of the owner’s house.

If the lake is not your style, there are also plenty of public pools in the area. That’s more for the kiddos, but the Jacksonville Community Center also has a pool that people of all ages use, and that one is even indoors.

Another of my favorite summertime activities is hiking, but that one is only for the bravest of souls.

This activity, more than any of the others listed above, requires a bit of precaution simply because it is easy to get stranded without water or communication. I strongly suggest places specifically designed for hiking such as Sugarloaf or Pinnacle mountains.

Those walks in the deep country can end in misfortune, and if you inadvertently end up on the wrong person’s property, it can end with someone playing a banjo while his buddy encourages you to make livestock sounds. Talk about your summertime blues!

Someone less adventurous but still fitness oriented can simply go to any of the area high schools and walk on their tracks. You might even get to take in a morning or afternoon football practice if you time it right.

But that’s only scratching the surface.

Space does not permit me to get into those cutthroat badminton tournaments going on across central Arkansas, not to mention the Jacksonville Sand Volleyball League. That is a recreation league, which plays volleyball matches at Foxwood every Wednesday night, and is run by none other than Steve Evans from Jacksonville Guitar.

So, if you happen to get burned out on volleyball, you could always ask Steve about the times he met Willie Nelson or that goofy Elvis impersonator guy.

But whatever you do, get out there and enjoy the summertime we have left. Because this last month or so of sleeveless-shirt, flip-flop wearing, dive board-springing weather will be gone before you know it.