a tarnished penny
a satchel of memories
a tarnished penny
a satchel of memories
New Years Day we’d take down the tree. Always. Like it was required.
But, in a few days, I knew it would be Christmas again.
When I was little…four, five, six years old…I knew we’d celebrate another Christmas after the regular one was done. That’s just the way it worked in our family. My mother’s side of the family celebrated Christmas on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6. For a kid, that’s great. We didn’t get presents again, but we knew after we finished the first Christmas, we’d get to go to my grandparents’ on the 6th and have fun…cousins, aunts, uncles…eat, sing, play.
Our memories from childhood are pictures, aren’t they? That live on in our psyches.
I see me sitting on the stairs off their kitchen, laughing, making noise, playing with my cousins. I see my grandmother bustling around the stove. The kitchen table with lots of people scattered around. The soft butter my grandmother took from her white metal cabinet. Oh, the frivolous details that stay with us.
Then there’s the boxy living room. Two couches. One against the wall with the TV. A second couch on the opposite wall. And a single small picture hanging over that couch, Jesus knocking on a door.
My five uncles are gathered at the couch by the TV. Four of them sitting, looking up to the uncle who is standing, facing them. Directing them. Sort of like their choir director. They’re singing Christmas carols, harmonizing, and the rest of us are on the other side of the room, the audience. Now it’s time for Hark the Herald Angels Sing. They need to get in tune because the song starts strong, with a hark. The uncle who’s directing asks them to sound their harks, and they do. Hark…hark…hark…hark. Again. Hark…hark…hark…hark. That’s when they start giggling. Yes, grown men can giggle like little girls. So my uncle repeats, a bit sternly, sound your harks! And they go for it, this time with bad, goofy bad, silly harks. At that point, it all falls apart.
And we all laugh til our sides hurt.
January 6…sound your harks.
Last night I looked up in the sky, and saw a tiny light flicker, like a firefly, way too late for the party.
….for another flicker.
So I moved my head this way and that, and stretched my neck to see more of the sky. Suddenly there were many tiny lights.
Ahh, stars of course, playing hide n’ seek with what’s left on the tall trees outside my window.
In July, August…you wouldn’t see stars in that part of the sky. You’d see the dark shadow of leaves. But we’re moving fast towards winter.
Cold nights. Leafless trees.
I remember the night I took this picture. The sea oats tempted me, and the ocean breeze taunted me. I wanted to see if I could capture something of the magic. The tall sea oak stalks, a soft ivory, bending against the backdrop of the evening sky. When I see this picture now, I see comfy shorts, a baggy cotton tee, vacation hair, and clammy wind. The wood gate swinging open, and a pause to consider if this is a good idea, walking away from the dimly lit planks, down the path to a deserted beach. Stepping away from civilization, alone with the wide stretch of sand and dark ocean. Scary and wonderfully invigorating at the same time. A minute or two when the rest of life was irrelevant. I didn’t wander far, but I tried over and over to catch the stalks in between back and forth. Futile, of course. I couldn’t escape the blur. A little blur for the feel of the ocean breeze. A fair trade.
You stand at the rail and see lots of open field. Grass and dirt and weeds and clover, all the way to the outfield, and the fence.
Then, you hear it, the crack of the bat. Somebody got a hit. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s the shrill whistle of metal.
Right in front of you, a big clay area, the baseball diamond, a pitcher’s mound, and those weird pillows to mark bases. Those bags must have been around since Babe Ruth.
But we’re here in the dugout, and there’s the old dirty bench. How many butts sat on this bench? It’s where you wait your turn to bat, or go out in the field.
So you sit, swing your feet, and take up the chant. It helps your teammates hit better, I guess. Maybe it keeps you from getting in trouble with other fun stuff, like tossing water around, or telling stupid jokes. Saying words like fart, that make your friends laugh. Could be chanting is supposed to help you forget you need to go to the bathroom.
You punch your glove for awhile, play with the strings. It kinda smells. Pretend you’re catching a fly, then a grounder. Nothing feels like a baseball, does it? Smooth, dirty, matte, hard.
It’s all part of the game.
Gotta go. They’re handing me a helmet. What inning did you say it is?