Chapter 1

It was my older sister’s cackle with all the subtly of an ambulance siren that yanked my mental realm from my 7 year-old engrossment from within toward the outer world.  Such yankment from the Inner World forced into the Outer World tis a transitory Dance with which i’ve yet – after 5+ decades – to c(om)e to learn.

“HA, HA, HA!!!   I SEE YOU!!!   YOU’RE SOOOO STUPID!!!”  cracked the wicked acoustics from somewhere i could not see.

Situation:   my feet were tethered upon plastic, tiny mini-skis begotten from i have no idea.
Locale:  Winnetka, Illinois.  yup.  Illinois.  Rhymes with Annoy.   i’ve all-ways said i’m a native of Durango, Colorado, which is spiritually true, yet, on this Realm?  False.  My first 7 years of life were spent – and i do mean ‘spent’ as in ‘wasted’ in a veritable mansion in the Beverly Hills of Chicago.  Three-story house.  Three-acre yard.  Two-Thirds of the gigantic yard was manicured, perfectly.  The other third?  Wilderness.   Big trees.  A single path.  Bushes galore.  That is where i learned my affinity toward Nature.

My father, Puggy (Mr. Henry G. Ilg III), inherited the largest florist in all the Chicago region from his father and his father before him from Germany.  Before my family moved us to Winnetka?   The ilg’s commanded a huge property on Tower Road and Pine Street; THE HENRY G. ILG FLORIST.  We had the first car outside of Chicago.   I still recall walking among towering beds of Petunia’s, Rose’s, and what-have-you’s in the domed growing quonsets laying adjacent to the outdoor acres which housed a plethora of other Plant Beings.  We lived in the second story of a building interfaced within the florist complex.

i grew up with flowers flowering…i reckon that’s why to this day,  while running among the Rocky Mountain wildflowers as of yesterday,  i still try to be like my Dad, try to identify the rush of wildflowers as they Blessedly kiss my shins…i hear His voice,

“Oh, for Christ’s Sake, Steve…if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times,  that’s a Viola Sororia (Blue Violet)!!  It’s our State Flower for God’s Sake.”

Everything with my Dad was associated with being “For God’s Sake,” and/or “For Christ’s Sake…”

He was a chain smoker since age 13.  Blew off all but one of his fingers at age 14 while making bombs out of Navy dummy bombs dropped into and resultantly washed upon Lake Michigan’s shores during target practice.  My dad was the State Champion in archery when his left hand got blown off, except for his pinky finger.  The surgeons rerouted all available nerves into his left pinky finger, which in later years resembled a penis worthy of magnitude which garnered tremendous and chronic looks, gaggles, and chuckles from everyone throughout my Dad’s life.   It was my M(om) that eventually engaged his confidence to overcome all the ridicule.   More on that a bit later.

“I can see you, Connie!”   (i couldn’t see her)
“HA, HA, HA!  NO YOU CAN’T!”  she retorted…
“I KNOW WHERE YOU ARE!!!”  i feebly responded as my head swiveled (i couldn’t see her)…
“HA, HA, HA!!!”  replied her echo…

The reality to me?

My older sister disturbed my Inner World wherein i was in the Olympics, skiing on my self-designed pretend Olympic slalom ski course (before i had ANY idea what a slalom ski course was) upon a forlorn snowbank pushed against our home on the alley side courtesy of the City snow plow.  i had steadfastly groomed the race course out of the snowbank and was deep into my Olympic scenario within which i was America’s ONLY Winter Sport athlete and i had to contest ALL the alpine skiing, nordic skiing (both cross country and jumping and nordic biathlon) and skating events by myself!

Just as my sister’s cackle caught me, i had pretended to narrowly win the slalom event and the interviewer wanted to interview me but i had to tell him, “I’m sorry,  but i have to get ready for the 10k Skate…”

i reckon even at age 7?  my lifelong Path of bec(om)ing America’s Most Accomplished Outdoor Athlete had begun…


Leave a Reply