Friday, September 14, 2012


There's an owl that shows up in the backyard every year when the weather's about to turn cool. It generally shows up around the time that football season starts. I don't know if it's the same owl, but the sentimental side of me likes to think so. Last night I heard it right at dusk while I was sitting on the patio enjoying one of my favorite summertime activities - watching the bats chase things that are flying around the streetlight below our house. Fall and summer, converging on the evening and our backyard at the same time. Only a brain as strange as mine could turn that into a train of thought that really goes nowhere.

A couple of weeks ago, I was working my last baseball game of the season and was then also struck by the changing of the seasons and how "thoughty" they make me. It sometimes seems I'm at my most content on summer evenings in a minor league baseball park, visiting with people I've come to know and adore and watching the great pastime as it was meant to be enjoyed - at a very grass roots/civic pride/this is the kind of thing that makes us American level. Every year I hate to see it end. The upside to it ending, though, is that it means football is here. As much as I romanticize about the sport of baseball, college football is religion, especially here in these southeastern United States. Perhaps it's the short duration of the season, the frantic "gotta enjoy it while it's here because in just a matter of weeks it's gone" state of mind. Perhaps it's the tradition and the pageantry. Perhaps it's genetic, as I can picture my father dozing off on Sunday afternoons during NFL games but sitting on the edge of his chair listening to college football on the radio. So maybe fall wins based on just on the fact that it's the backdrop to my favorite obsession?

I don't know, summer has two really important entries on its ledger - flip-flops and tomatoes. If I never had to put on another pair of socks in my life and could wear flip-flops everywhere I went I'd die a happy man. (Those that know me are grateful that we live in an area with just enough of a winter to make socks necessary some of the time. I truly have the world's ugliest feet, more specifically the world's ugliest toes.) And tomatoes...oh dear LORD tomatoes. If could eat a tomato sandwich with mayo, black pepper and arugula for lunch everyday for the rest of my time on this earth, this also would help me die with a smile on my face.

I tried to warn you that this train was going nowhere. There's something positively strange about someone who can wax poetic about flip-flops, bats, owls and tomatoes and find a way to work ugly toes into the discussion. Robert Louis Stevenson didn't waste quite as many words as I have trying to paint a similar picture:

"In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!"
("Autumn Fires")

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