What a summer it’s been. It began as it has many times in the past with a Little League baseball season. Up at the ballpark, we renewed old acquaintances, made new friends and whooped for the boy in the outsized cap, wearing a shirt numbered “1.”
Then “number one” turned eight. On a bright and sun-drenched Saturday, seven little pirates descended on The Three. For two hours, Blackbeard and his band of seafaring brigands walked the plank, played pirate games and hunted for hidden treasure. All of this in pirate hats and eye patches while brandishing foam swords. That a treasure chest cake was devoured surely goes without the saying.
What also goes without saying is the fact that once again, a revolving door was needed. And once again, it was not installed. For after the umpteenth whoosh with breathless folks rushing in and out, back and forth to the diamond, it whooshed again.
This time, it was Inspector Gadget who headed to Chicago for training on sharing his faith. There, he and his fellow youth group members absorbed apologetics, learned evangelism’s basics and took to the streets to practice.
Here, meanwhile, the laundry stream slowed to a trickle, the house grew as still as Davy Jones’ locker and a small, local pirate went comatose. He languished. He drooped. He flipped, and he flopped in a great, soft chair by my desk.
Like a poor, lost, lone puppy dropped by mistake at the pound, he suffered. The brother he faithfully shadowed was gone, and Mother was a sad, boring substitute. There he sat, uncomplaining, but draped like spaghetti on upholstery across from the desk.
Fortunately for him, his brother returned, and life, for a time, went to normal. Fortunately for me, his brother returned, and life went back to normal. And fortunately for his dad, Big Brother came back, and Mother stopped threatening to “gift” him with an office assistant. Hence, life for his father stayed normal.
Twice more, the door whooshed. First, the little pound puppy went to summer camp where he larked through his first overnighter. (It must be noted here that the word “lark” could not be applied to the father in this story. Rather, he languished with a touch of drooping, particularly when there was no one small to put to bed with the nightly pounding and tickling.)
On the second whoosh, Big Brother went to camp, and the puppy resumed his position (limp spaghetti). Then a quick-thinking dad saved the day, introducing “The Sandlot,” a movie about a ragtag gang of boys who spent one glorious summer playing baseball.
Now, post movie premiere, evenings are spent outdoors on our own “sandlot,” otherwise known as The Three. They pitch, catch, hit and field while Mother sits by in a chair with a book. The sun sinks in the west, the shadows grow long and at long last, they gather up baseballs and gloves. And all’s well.
Such simple pleasures, summer’s sights, sounds and flavors. The Schrock hummingbirds are back, flitting from flower to flower, sipping nectar. Morning mist hangs low just over The Three, and the sun shines glory at barn’s peak.
The first garden tomato, ruby red on the vine, has graced a green dinner salad. Golden corn ripens, too, and squash and hot peppers, setting eager mouths here afire. At the market, blueberries beckon. Lifting the lid, I peek in and see…possibilities. Shaped (I can see it) like blueberry pies and pancakes and muffins. Oh, wait. And hands that are dipping and scooping. I see those, too.
On a quiet summer day, then, I stand at the counter. My hands roll dough, cook pudding, stir glaze. Later, I will spoon pudding in a thick, creamy layer atop a thin, flaky crust. Then will come berries of impossible blue, kissed with a light, shiny glaze. Finally, I’ll crown it with a fluffy, white cloud of real cream, slipping summer, wedge shaped, onto plates. My job’s safe.
This week, the buses return. Summer’s ending. On the face of it, nothing happened. And yet.
Yet, perhaps it did. For on a sunny day, a blue-eyed boy weeble-wobbled his red bike in circles. And like that, one era passed, and a new one began. The training wheels are gone forever.
Here on The Three where nothing big happened, I recall that small things aren’t really. Aren’t small, I mean. In fact, they’re the big things, and many folks never do see ’em.
Like hours of fun in one’s own big, back yard, or the pleasure of seeing things grow. Like the twinkle and blink of firefly lights in the evening as dusk is descending. Like fire-orange fingers tinging clouds and horizon with the dying of day in the west. Like the slow, steady growth of the faith of one’s children, or miraculous answers to prayer.
All these gifts have been mine this one sweet summer in the midst of our ordinary days. Autumn is coming, and it, too, shall bring gifts even if nothing “big” ever happens.