---- — All right, baseball season is nearly here. I can hear the crack of the bats and the smack of a baseball screaming into the catcher’s mitt. It won’t be long until cold, dreary and snowy days give way to warm, humid nights. Instead of snowflakes flitting in the streetlights, there will soon be an array of winged insects in the ballpark’s spotlights. The scent of newly fallen snow will eventually be replaced by the smell of freshly popped corn, hot dogs, polish sausages smothered in grilled onions and peppers, along with the stench of spilled beer cascading down the stadium steps. Salt-covered pretzels will take the place of heavily salted streets. Winter gloves, hats and heavy coats will disappear deep within the recesses of our closets for at least six months, while T-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes step up to the plate. “One, two, three strikes you’re out of the old ballpark” will soon drown out the scraping sounds of snowplows burying the entrances to our driveways. Oh spring, that wonderful time of year that signals the death of winter and the rebirth of warm, sunny days and comfortable starlit nights.
The end of winter and the beginning of spring meant many things to me as a child growing up in central Indiana. For one thing, I no longer had to wear two pairs of pants, extra socks, boots or just about anything else that would cover up my exposed skin. I could run in and out of the house without worrying about the furnace kicking on or melting snow soaking my mother’s carpet. Oh, but that was all replaced by sticky, brown mud that had been hiding for several months under the pristine snow. Our mud wasn’t just any normal mud, it was about ninety percent clay and other unidentifiable minerals that did not blend well with our home’s décor. No matter how hard I tried not to, I would continually track in the good earth every time I entered the house. Just off of the kitchen, we had what at that time was referred to as a mud room. Actually, it was where some of our canned goods were stored, along with the pump that brought our well water to the surface. No matter what, most of the mud and dirt would wait to fall off until after I had reached the rest of the house.
Springtime also meant lots of flooding of the surrounding fields and highways. Our lengthy driveway was not left out when it came to high water. Many times there would be more than a foot of murky water covering most of our gravel driveway. It was a great place to sail a boat or launch a toy submarine. If I got tired of playing captain of my own vessel, I would get out my shiny, green and silver bike and ride as fast as I could peddle, until I splashed into the deepest part of my make-believe Panama Canal. Unfortunately, if the water was too deep, I usually found myself crashing into the murky depths, completely covered from head to foot in muck and mire. That always meant a trip to the garden hose to give myself a good cleaning before I could enter the house and take a shower. Not only did the water cover the drive, but there would also be several inches of water flowing through the tall weeds and grasses that bordered driveway. Instead of looking like central Indiana, our property began to take on the appearance of some dark, dank swamp in southern Louisiana. I just knew that gigantic reptiles of all sorts were waiting to catch a small boy off guard and devour him, leaving his parents wondering what happened to the kid that always tracked in most of the “the great outdoors.”It’s nearly March and I am beginning to wonder if it will come in like a lion or a lamb. With the way this winter has been, I can imagine that it will come in like a dangerously famished lion with a roar so loud that it will wake up the dead. March means basketball sectionals, which also used to translate into lots of snow. Besides sectionals, the third month on the calendar usually comes with a lot of wind, which means that it is kite-flying season. Sometimes when it was time to come in for the night, I would tie off my kite to a stake or small tree. It was always interesting to note that many times the wind had shifted sending my kite in a totally different direction from where it had been the night before. My imagination would many times carry me high atop that diamond-shaped airship. I would pretend that I was soaring high over the treetops, which allowed me to see for miles in every direction. Suddenly, I would be snapped back to reality just as the nose of my kite came crashing back to Earth. Repairing any damage, I would once again let my imagination launch me into a make-believe world that only little boys could imagine.
One of my many other pastimes was to throw an airplane glider directly into the wind and watch as it made a perfect landing on the grass below. Tossing a plastic toy soldier with a parachute attached kept me busy for what seemed like hours at a time. I even became more adventurous by gently securing the soldier to one of my kites in hopes that once I reached the optimal altitude it would be released and glide back to Earth. I doubt that I will ever attach four or five balls of twine to my kite again, especially since I am unable to scamper across three or four fields and jump over fences. I guess you can’t bring back the little boys that we once were, but hey, that’s why God gave us grandsons.
Contact Raymond Snoke at firstname.lastname@example.org.