For our anniversary a few years back, my wife invested in a few rocking chairs for our front porch. They are a shade of green resembling the color of Mike, the one-eyed creature featured in the movie Monsters, Inc. Probably not my first choice of colors which brings me to the idea that this gift may have been one of those “US” presents. This means she was dying to have decorative chairs on our front porch and our anniversary was a great excuse to purchase them. Either way they have come into some use by our family when you can stand to sit outside for more than a few minutes. If you were somehow oblivious to the calendar system, we are currently knocking on October’s door, but stuck in July temperatures. The heat is still so bad in South Alabama that we have resorted to using non-stick cooking spray on our vehicle seats to keep our legs from becoming one with the leather.
Back to the chairs. I sat on the porch one afternoon this week and noticed a cloud of dust forming down our country road. The dust started small as if someone had just exited a dirt road, but as the minutes passed the view of neighboring structures grew more and more dim. A visitor to our area may have concerns for their safety due to the limited view on the roadways. Could it be some sort of meteorological phenomenon? A crew of roughneck cowboys riding horses through the countryside? What about Tremors (for the newer generation an early 90’s movie)?
The real reason for the giant dirt cloud is its peanut picking time in Houston County. A staple to the area known as the “Peanut Capital of the World.” An industry that has provided employment and income for many families in the Wiregrass area for years. If you’ve never indulged in a boiled ”goober” as some southerners call them, you haven’t actually lived life yet.
The cloud of dust for me personally brings about a sense of gratitude for the hardworking farmers of the area. But on this day while rocking on the front porch, the cloud of dust takes me back to a coach pitch baseball game. Thirty years ago, the pinnacle of my athletic career occurred on a ball that barely made it out of the infield. The crowd roared with the touching of each base. The game was tied and if I scored we would take home the victory. As I rounded third base, another young lad sprinted towards the plate. In a photo finish resembling the “Sid Bream Play at the Plate” in the 1992 National League Division Championship. The umpire emerged from a cloud of dust with a booming SAFE shout and signal. The Enterprise “Mets” had won the game. Our coach met me at the plate with hugs and high fives. The love for baseball began in that instant.
This week is a holiday in our family, the baseball playoffs are starting. Activities in our house that revolve around baseball include: a miniature baseball field in our back yard, trips to watch the Atlanta Braves, recent inquiries regarding a new cable provider with Dish Network discontinuing Fox Sport South (The Braves Network), random games of whiffle ball or home run derbies and baseball gloves have a permanent spot in our vehicles. When I have drifted into an awakened state of deep concentration, my wife need not be concerned. No wandering of the mind here, just thoughts of why the Braves haven’t traded for a big name closer or if I could beat the “Freeze” between innings at one of their games.
Time has moved quickly. The dust has settled. My cleats have been retired for a number of years. We have a teenager now. When memories are all that are left from a time long passed, may there be an abundance of hugs, love, high fives, peanut boils, afternoon baseball games, concession food and laughter, plenty of laughter, when reflecting on our time together. Love, DAD