Monday, October 05, 2009

the berries on a tree at the base of our driveway are almost ripe, bright red, juicy-looking, and in the cool mornings they sometimes have dew hanging on them that makes the sun sparkle and sets the bright red color off from the browns and greens in the rest of the yard. my son and i wait for the bus down there, and he has an active internal life, imagining something, and acting it out, there at the bottom of the driveway on a cool october morning. when i was seven, i also had an elaborate internal fantasy life, mine involving baseball; actually, mine might have lasted quite a bit longer, and was surely thriving on those times when i got lost in tiger stadium, detroit, this would probably have been in the very early sixties.

busloads of ymca kids would go up there for a tiger game, and we'd sit way back in left field, and watch the likes of al kaline, mickey lolich and dick mcauliffe from a far distance. I mention mcauliffe not because he was a star, but because his batting stance was so unusual that we knew he was up; he was perhaps the only one we knew was up. My old friend claims that al kaline was the best of all baseball players, but i couldn't discern; he seemed so much like the other tigers. i guess, yes, he must have hit a homer or two while i was there watching, but, who didn't? those were free-swinging days.

because we were way out in left field, our walk back to the bus was circuitous and took us through several stadium areas each of which had views of people walking in all directions and an occasional glimpse at the baseball field. it was somewhere in here that i'd get lost, either coming or going, the tiger blue all over the grandstands, huge numbers everywhere. maybe i stopped to look at a player? somehow i'd get separated from the crowd.

if it was 2009, i probably wouldn't be around to tell the tale, or so they say, given the nature of present-day downtown detroit. but, here i was, ten or less, and somehow they found my bus every time, and got me back home safely. Now detroit at that time was an interesting place, exploding with motown and a thousand other things, but we, our family, our friends, glad i made it back to toledo and all, probably knew very little about detroit itself, and years later, when i saw the old tiger stadium, i had a dim memory of being there before, but not much of one. even being lost more than once, i didn't meet anyone, or remember much, except a few policemen, and they were tiger blue also, in their own way, big, blue, angular, larger than life. they towered over me, those policemen; i remember that, but mainly what i remember is that the stadium seemed like an impossible place for a kid to stick with a long line of other kids.

down at the bottom of the driveway, the boy picks up the berries occasionally and throws them at the tree, reminding me of old bob feller stories and baseball dreams, which i doubt he even has; he doesn't watch baseball; he doesn't have a television, and this is partly my fault. he plays soccer; his older brother was disappointed when, being on a town-league team, that team was just a little too overbearing and parents were just a little over-competitive. even the soccer can be that way; they have to remind us not to keep score; my four-year-old wanders around, enjoying the attention, but not keeping his eye on the ball by any means. The seven-year-old is involved, competitive, and engaged, but likes goaltending, where he's given some time to engage in his fantasies if he wants. the four-year-old, however, seems to like the fact that life on the soccer field has slowed down to just a few minutes in which almost everyone is watching him. Why should he get in there and kick the ball? it's a beautiful day, and everyone is watching him; it's time to chase butterflies.

at the bus stop, the bus comes, and the seven-year old is on his way, and i wonder about the things i didn't say to him, about baseball, about school, about life maybe, having let him live out his fantasy without interruption; it's a sign of safety, really, that he can live out his fantasy in his front yard, and not be interrupted. water hangs from the berries in the tree and falls sometimes; the four-year-old, if he comes out at all, will yank the berries and let a whole branch of hanging dew fall around him and on him. why not? he doesn't go to school until later, and by then the sun, and the warm house, will dry him off a little. life is quick, they grow up, with or without baseball. if i took them anywhere, it would probably be to see the cards, where everything is red, and where i would dread their getting lost. But these days, my mind is full of reading theory, reading practice; i'm going to peru, on saturday, no less; for a week, and then, upon my return, to new jersey. life is so busy, i don’t bother reading, or commenting on the news, or finding out what's going on, how are those tigers doing, who's going to face those yankees this year. now there's some blue for you, some deep blue, dark, like the blue of ibm. yankee stadium, now there's a blue place, larger than life, angular, tiered, with steps on all sides and big white numbers with dark blook background. I was there one time, and looked up, and there was a fight, way up there on the third deck, over my head; two guys were duking it out. i thought maybe one would come tumbling over the rail there for a while, but the fight was broken up; it didn't happen. look lively, i guess, life is short; it's funny how, short as my experience in a given place was, i only remember a tiny piece of it. i'm lucky, in the sense that i do remember lots of the good things; i don't want to get too busy, and miss something good, like a good play at the plate, maybe, or a kid and a berry, and a seven-year-old smile, as he goes off to face the day.


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