Signs of Spring

Down at the dragon’s mouth, where spume, smoke and steam gush forth with a roar from between her stony fangs, there are already signs of spring.

  • purple crocuses bloom beneath the melting snow
  • gurgling streams emerge from behind the ice’s rim
  • buds and tiny leaf clusters sprout all along the brambly shoots of wild rose bushes beside the water’s edge
  • pioneer mosquitos (one or two) patrol low above the snow, seeking . . . something. . . before their certain doom.

At midday, the temperatures reached into the balmy mid-40’s.   It felt even warmer in the sun.   In two days we’ll have drenching rains that will wash away all but the most prodigious snowbanks.   The soil will freeze again, and it will snow a bit more before winter is done.   But in the blink of an eye, spring will be here.

I’ve been working out on the ergs four times a week, and lifting weights between erg sessions as well.   Even if this doesn’t make me a better rower, I’m already a stronger one.   Occasional stints in the indoor rowing tanks have been enough to reassure me that I haven’t forgotten my bladework and hand technique.   However, I’ve vexed and unsettled the coach by displaying some unorthodox behavior when we drill at legs-only or legs-and-back rowing:  I cock my outside wrist so that my hand rotates downward as the blade leaves the water at the end of each stroke.   (I’ve done this for years.  When we drill on the water early in the morning, it’s too dark for the coach to see me do it.)

This little wrist cock is a “cheat” that I sub-consciously developed over the years to take pressure off my outside hand when releasing the blade at the end of each stroke during legs-only rowing.   It also allows me to get another couple of inches through the water at the end of the stroke, since my inside hand can continue to move with my shoulders toward bow as the outside hand rotates around the oar handle.   Both arms stay straight (as the drill demands), but cocking the outside wrist effectively “shortens” the overall length of the outside arm to match that of the inside arm as the oar shaft pivots around the oarlock.  Sneaky and disturbing (to a coach), but effective during a drill that has never been one of my favorites . . . at any time of year.

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