One of the outdoor games I remember most at family gatherings, after lawn darts which I doodlewashed last year, has to be croquet. For some reason, our family stumbled upon a croquet set, often associated with the upper class who would recoil at the thought of lawn darts, and a new tradition was born. For anyone unfamiliar with this game, it consists of a set of wires bent into a horseshoe shape called wickets, some mallets, and some balls. The goal was basically to have your side’s balls go through more wickets than your opponent’s side. And there ends my proper knowledge as we made up the rest. There’s a “right” way to set up the court, but it was more fun to create a winding obstacle course instead. When the wickets weren’t enough we’d add other things like aluminum cans and Tupperware into the mix. I realize now, I’ve never really played croquet, but instead, played a sort of homemade miniature golf sporting odd wooden hammers and some really big balls.

Sometimes, a cousin would insist on playing by the rules and I was always irritated. It didn’t seem as fun at all and actually sort of boring. It wasn’t until later that I realized, as I would throughout my life, that some people are completely lost when there are no rules and others, often those crazy creative types, are lost when there are rules. Trying to play by someone else’s rules has always been a problem for me. It’s not that I questioned authority, it’s just that my mind works by riddling through a series of possibilities. Rules automatically made something, whatever it was, impossible. And I’ve always wanted to explore new things and try things that haven’t been done before. Luckily, I had a lot of like-minded friends to play with who would happily make up and break rules as we went along, so those outdoor games were really fun.

Looking back, I realize that rules are the only way to declare a true winner, but I guess we just weren’t as interested in that. We were too busy having fun to worry about who was the best player and who was the worst. If anything, the reward simply came from the time spent enjoying a fun activity together. We all walked away as winners that way. I’ve not played outdoor games in years, because my friends all grew up, moved on, or learned to play by the rules. Sometimes, I think back and miss those wonderful times building those crazy courses and wonder what it would be like to try it again today. In my dream, I’d see people across the park who seemed to share that gleeful sense of reckless abandon and march right over to the wayward group, one eyebrow raised, and slyly ask, “Fancy a game of croquet?”

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Red Orange, Sennelier Red, Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup Fancy a game of croquet mallet and ball orange white background
Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

21 replies on “Fancy A Game Of Croquet?

  1. Your croquet set is so lively, orange being a color of brightness and happiness. I’ve always loved croquet but like pool, I could never get the balls to go where they were supposed to. I like playing games for social reasons, not for winning anything. That just takes the fun out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rules! What are rules? Lol…we have a lovely set at work, but with a group of usually over 10 people ranging from 60-90 there is usually only one person that has a vague idea of the game structure and rules. ……that’s in England on the south coast, an area that you would think the game was played, as it has some affluent areas. I reckon people just had them set up, and never played….just looked good on the lawn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never thought of croquet as game for the upper crust – we had a set and, just like you, set up the wickets and whatever wherever we wanted and then just smacked the ball around. I remember being more concerned with being able to hit my sister’s ball than getting it through any wickets. Wonderful painting and great story, as always, Charlie!

    Liked by 1 person

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