You can go home again (after rounding 3rd base)…
My youngest son, Nathaniel, age 9, just joined the rookie league of our town’s Little League program. I think having an older brother Rhys who loves the game accounts for Nathaniel’s baseball leanings. Besides games of catch, I know I wasn’t the catalyst. Honestly, I don’t know who won the last World Series. So we signed him up, got the necessary gear, he was given a uniform and the coolest hat – with a rattle snake on it because of the team’s name, the Diamondbacks. The ‘Garter Snakes’ would, I’m sure, not carry the intended impact. Nor would my suggestion that Nathaniel play some non-competitive baseball (?) with his friends.
Two nights ago the team had its first practice at our local field, located next to a busy railroad line, with all the tootings and screechings and clangings you can imagine. A busy road, treacherous to cross, intersects the tracks right there, horns, brakes and exhaust are common. Litter is strewn along the banks of the railroad tracks where a walking path runs alongside, and the small stream below the pedestrian bridge is also blanketed with litter. Very busy Route 59 is within easy earshot of the playing field, so you never lack for car and truck noise, and completing the scene is a bus station and big parking lot.
But despite all this, the two playing fields were green, fresh, and on this evening had eight children of varying abilities, running, laughing, catching, batting, having fun.
So here I was, sitting in the bleachers, getting darker and colder, telling myself that I will get into this baseball thing, when I see something big glide to the top of a tall light pole, a red-tailed hawk. Then after 5 minutes, without a sound, the hawk flew toward third base to the top of another pole and hung around for a while longer. Perhaps scouting out a future meal in the form of some of the youngest, smaller players?! It felt that this bird of prey felt very comfortable here.
And then, just above the playing field, flew, with almost slow motion wing flaps, a blue heron, neck back in typical ‘S’ position, legs extended out and back, taking its time as players and coaches below were intent with the action on-field, unaware of what was flying silently 25 feet above the field. It landed in a by-then darkened area outside the fence, almost straight outward from second base.
I guess home plate on the field feels more home to me now. In quite a few ways.