Summer Memories: No Hitter, Can’t Hit [Clap-Clap]

The chant in the field was infectious, and I couldn’t help but join in: “No hitter, can’t hit” – CLAP-CLAP – “No hitter, can’t hit” – CLAP-CLAP. If I could have been a baseball cheerleader, I would have been in my pom-pom glory, but since I couldn’t (and since there weren’t any) I had to find other ways of amusing myself at my brother’s Pee-Wee baseball games. I was reminded of this when we attended my nephew’s last game of the season. As we sat in the setting sun of a rather beautiful summer day, my mind returned to the games of my brother’s youth. At such times it wasn’t my youth – I was on the outside, aloof on the periphery while the real action swirled somewhere in the middle. I liked that vantage point.  I went unnoticed, blending into the background, which made my disappearance unremarkable.

Behind almost every field at which his team played (Bacon School, Veteran’s Field, Isabel’s) there was a path that led to a stream or creek. Some of these were barely running in the heat of summer, but some were almost rivers. I’d slowly soften my chant and sneak away, out of the sight or sound of the game, and into a secret world hidden behind leaves and trees and the winding half-hearted paths that led to the water.

Not unlike today, I was drawn to the water back then. The sound of it trickling or moving along, the way the light danced on its rippling surface, and the creatures that made its wet environs their home – all of it entranced me. Being landlocked in upstate New York instilled a longing that found expression in my fascination with all sorts of water bodies and tributaries.

On those summer afternoons, as the light slowly began to drain from the sky, I’d walk along the water’s edge. The muffled shouts from the game faded as I listened to the gurgling brook, or the unexpected splash of some hidden animal. In the cool surroundings of the leafy forest, summer felt secret and solitude felt safe.

I’d rejoin the dusty dry game as it neared its final stretch, returning to the noise and the tumult, but quieter in my heart. Nature could tame my emotional wilderness better than any other form of exertion. Like running around bases and hitting balls.

I remembered those games as I watched my nephew make his way to first base, and my niece meander around the perimeter of the field. We are each lost in our own world, but if we’re lucky we meet up again at the end of the game.

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