baseball, breeze, Brewers, broadcast, crickets, Cubs, evening walk, Giants, grandmother, grandpa, lightning, lightning bugs, pitching, porch, radio, relatives, rocking chair, Royals, summer vacation, summertime, swing
The other day I decided to go for an evening walk around my neighborhood. I didn’t have any real plans or agenda – just a nice little walk to enjoy the cool evening air. The sky was turning from grayish blue into deep violet and the breeze felt good as I walked along. Most of the houses in my neighborhood sit nicely back off the road. One of my neighbors had his garage open and I could see him in the yellow glow from the light fiddling with some gadget. A little further down the road I spotted some neighbors sitting out on the porch enjoying the evening. As I rounded the corner I could hear a far off radio. I stood there for a moment and listened and the years melted away…
I remember sitting on the front porch at my grandfather’s house. A soft, cool breeze would float by, my grandpa would be sitting on the porch swing just slightly rocking back and forth and the chains would creak a little every now and then. My Mom and Grandmother would be in the kitchen, making wonderful kitchen sounds that made you feel like you were going to just cave in before dinner was ready. Grandpa would lean over to the side, making the chains creak a little louder. I knew without looking that he was reaching over to turn on the radio and I’d settle back in the old rocking chair and wait for the radio to warm up.
That old radio would hum and buzz and glow that warm yellow-orange from the dial – the only light on the porch as the dusk started to give way to the dark. It seemed an eternity waiting on the old radio to warm up, but finally through the crackle and hiss I would hear a familiar voice announcing the game, or maybe it would be the crack of the bat or the noise of the crowd. It didn’t really matter; I knew that Grandpa was tuning in a ball game as we were waiting to be called into supper. That was our nightly routine when we visited in the summers so long ago – his “wind-down” time was what he called it. It also didn’t really matter what team, either. It could be the Cubs or the Giants, the Royals or even the Brewers as long as it was baseball and the crowd was a little noisy and the announcers could be heard over the static and hiss and pop from that old radio.
As we listened, my Dad would come along and call “Hey, Pop what’s the score?” and so would begin a good-natured discussion on whose stats were the best in the league, where the pitching stood and what the standings would be by the 4th – because everyone knew that the league leader after the 4th was the team to beat. The lightning bugs would start to flicker in the bushes and around the porch. Occasionally there would be sheet lightning off in the distance and I would squeeze my eyes into little slits so that it would look like fireworks…
There are several states and hundreds of miles between me and that porch now. I can’t even begin to imagine where that radio is these days. But every now and then, when I hear a ball game on the radio, especially on a warm summer evening with the crickets chirping and the lightning bugs glowing I am back on that porch, watching my Dad and Grandpa talk, catching a whiff of dinner and hearing the pop and crackle of that old radio – even if its only for a moment or so.