Around here, the “boys of summer” means baseball starts with practice in March and doesn’t end until October. There might be a small break in summer, but in baseball it feels like there is no off season. Batting practice, keeping the skills up, the arms in shape… it goes year round. So does the laundry and the dirt! But, as the 2011 season is winding down and I faced the challenge tonight of having two boys with games in two different towns at the same time (in addition to a business function I had to miss!), I needed to reflect. I needed to take a moment and do what my heart drives me to do. I needed to capture this moment.
For five weeks this fall, both boys had twenty games to play… and for my schedule it meant a tough balance of days and nights again. I missed one game. I came late to two other games and I’ll be arriving late at another one this week while making balance between work and family. But, tonight I witnessed a homerun and held back joyous tears grateful I was there to see it. For the clients who have patiently waited a few extra weeks for a session or made special arrangements for appointment times because I was already filled during those otherwise convenient evening time slots, thank you from the bottom of my baseball filled heart.
Today I looked down and beside a heap of uniforms sat two pair of cleats on the floor today just waiting to be filled. Two pair of cleats belonging to brothers… one pair big, one pair small. The smallest pair to be filled by a little spirited baseball newbie, not really sure if he’s going to love this game. He’s never made it to first base yet. He has had more fun spinning and kicking dirt in the outfield this year. He giggles in the dugout, and often loses everything out of his bag before the end of the game. The other pair would be filled by a veteran, or so it seems after spending half his life playing this game thus far. A full hearted player, knowing already he will love this game for life. He slides and dives without hesitation, and never leaves a game clean. I honestly think he never starts the first inning clean, although he is when he arrives for the game. He has more fun with his band of brothers running down base stealing opponents and stealing more bases than he takes fairly on his own. Today, two pair of cleats sat anxiously waiting to be filled with baseball flesh and blood.
I took a moment for a closer look. This year’s cleats sat full of dust and dirt and telling stories of games gone by. One pair is barely over month old because the veteran grew a shoe size over the summer, yet already worn in like the rest. Dust so deep it fills every fiber of the shoestrings and seams. Only the finest Virginia red clay and infield sand compacted on the soles. Less than perfect loops sit floppy from the small hands who tied them. They’re just cleats in reality. They usually get lost from each other, can’t be found by the players who fill them, get left outside when they are too muddy, or get tossed to the bottom of a bat bag after the game. They never get polished or cleaned like the finest leather shoes. They are just rugged hard working shoes with a purpose.
Around here they sit matched, ready and waiting today. While the house is quiet, and the room is still they just sit waiting to be filled for the last few games of the year.
They aren’t perfect and they aren’t clean. They sit still but aren’t quiet because they have so many beloved stories to tell.