The Cordova Golf Course Lesson on Human Relations

by Elison Alcovendaz

We are only leasing their space, one errant golf swing at a time. - Anonymous

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Hole 3:  Male/Female Relations

Under the shade of a pine tree a peahen nibbles on a glistening patch of green grass.  When we approach and plop down on the red wooden bench just a few feet away, she makes no unfamiliar motion, no nod of acknowledgement.  Through a copse of dogwoods a peacock emerges, cocking his head as regally as a king – or a cocky ex-boyfriend.  He struts across the tee box, his trail of blue and green and gold feathers tucked close to his body as if he knows he’s handsome and doesn’t need to prove it.  He nears the peahen and tries to eat some of her grass, but she looks up, and before this man can invade her space, she leaps forward, snapping her beak at the arrogant trespasser.  He hurtles backward and stands a few steps back, watching her.  More peahens arrive, plump and brown-feathered, forming a circle around their sister peahen, each sharing this small patch of grass with the other.  The peacock, defeated by his ex-girlfriend and her support group, struts back across the tee box where two of his friends have been watching the scene with as much interest as I.  I cannot tell if they are laughing. 

Hole 6:  Man/Nature Relations

Muddy puddles from last night’s downpour fill the expansive fairway, which is fenced in on the left by a line of bald maples and to the right by a row of cherry blossom trees.  The air smells sweet – as all sunny days after the rain are – but also pungent with the bleach-y smell of the cherry blossoms.  My errant tee shot falls far to the left, next to the trunk of a lone pine among the maples.  I start for my golf ball, noticing a squirrel to my left, scrunched up on the trunk of the first maple I pass.  Once I pass he darts forward, awaiting me on the second maple.  He rears up on hind legs, staring at me, eager and defiant, his tail erect and angry.  He snatches a fallen leaf and scurries to the third tree and then to the fourth, sitting on the root and chewing his food while never taking his eyes off me.  Finally I reach my ball, but before I do, he runs up the trunk of the pine in circles, letting me know that even though I am here, the pine tree – and in fact all the trees – belong to him.  After my next shot veers off course, I swear I can hear him laughing high atop the tree.

Holes 10 and 17:  Black/Brown/White Relations

Connecting holes 10 and 17 is an oval-shaped pond, the home of crabgrass, turtles, mishit golf balls, and countless brownish-black geese.  On the west side of the pond – hole 10 – geese wander freely, making homes beneath cherry blossom trees or in the deeper puddles of water from yesterday’s rains.  Every now and then, a couple of geese will take flight, hovering just high enough to fly over the tallest maples and sycamores.  On the east side, hole 17, however, they huddle closely, at least twenty or thirty milling around, looking up to no good.  Just then, a flock of purely white seagulls hurtles downward from the aqua sky in a semicircle, landing on the pond with nary a splash.  The geese begin to holler a warning symphony to their infiltrators but their enemy responds with nonchalant silence.  Nevertheless, the next few moments are the fastest peace reconciliations I have ever seen; just a few blinks later, they are sharing the space and the pond, a picture of brown and black and white, all previous transgressions not forgotten, but at least forgiven, if only for a moment.  Their ensuing honks unite in the air.  I can tell they are laughing.   

 - originally published in Calaveras Station, 2011