Sunday was a beautiful evening for watching a baseball game.
Except that I wasn't really thinking about watching a baseball game, despite the fact that I had driven 25 minutes to reach the field, and toted along a fold-up chair, hats for my daughter Holly and me, salad and strawberries to contribute to a picnic, and a picnic blanket.
I was thinking about how I'd managed to vacuum only half the house. I was thinking about what time I'd need to get Holly to day camp the next morning and whether the schedule would enable me to reach my office on time. I was thinking about why the washing machine had mysteriously turned itself off in the middle of a rinse cycle, and when I could be home for a service visit if the washing machine didn't resuscitate itself in the morning. I was thinking about how many more games were left before Tim's summer league ended, and whether I'd submitted all the paperwork in order for him to start driver's ed next week. And I was thinking, as I always do during baseball games, about whether any of us in the stands or whether any of the players on the field were likely to get beaned by a fastball and sustain a brain-threatening injury.
And just as it looked like a win was within easy reach, the other team tied the game and it went into extra innings.
All of which almost made me overlook the fact that it was such a beautiful evening for a baseball game.
By 6:30, the edges of the field were bathed in shade. My parents had arrived earlier and claimed a wide swath of grass for our picnic. I'd taken time at home to hull the strawberries, and they were tender, sweet, and room temperature, just the way I like them best. Holly was excited about the start of camp. Tim was pitching with an air of assurance, whether merited or not.
It was the last weekend of June, and the whole summer still lay ahead....and yet as I watched the extra innings begin, in hopes of a prompt and easy tie-breaker, I realized the sense of limitless time was an illusion. The baseball season would indeed end, but more changes would follow. Holly would soon be old enough to make her own plans on a summer evening, plans which very likely would not include her brother's baseball games. By the time a new baseball season rolls around, Tim will be able to drive himself to the field. My parents won't be here to picnic with us forever either.
It's strange to have a sense of things ending just as the summer is beginning, but sitting there watching the game made me ever more aware of how much that game was like my life itself. So many details to keep track of -- details involving household maintenance, employment, health, finances -- but also so much to enjoy. And, too, so much to worry about: an errant pitch slamming into an eye or skull and changing everything; a bad decision about which side street to take on the way home.
Life is short, I reminded myself as the game entered yet another tied inning. Summer is short. The baseball season is short. Even the strawberry season is short. This abundance of blessings -- family, food, health, security -- all of this could, and in some ways inevitably will, pass.
There were still a couple of tied innings left for me to savor, and I stopped thinking about the malfunctioning washing machine and upcoming deadlines and paid attention to baseball. Tim's team lost, but that didn’t matter. We had a wonderful time. It turned out to be not only a beautiful evening but a perfect one.