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Play of Summer

Even though it is still technically spring time, the summer college semester begins in one week, the weather is consistently sunny and mid-80s, and baseball season is in full bloom. I embrace this time of year as a time to extend my outside activities beyond my nightly walks, to bike rides, benefit runs, beach days, and a newfound interest in softball.

Yesterday Joe and I began the day with a 7:25am 5K run to benefit the Child Abuse Council. One of Tampa's largest and most regular 5Ks, the Gunn Allen Financial May Classic brought out over 1,500 of Tampa's athletes and do-gooders. Since it was a last-minute decision for us to register, we did not have a a chance to train, but we had both been keeping a somewhat regular exercise schedule in the weeks leading up to the run. Our goal was to finish, preferably to finish running. And we did. 36 minutes of concrete pounding, rhythmic breathing, and humanistic awareness, and we had completed our first 5K together, having run the whole way.

Later, we celebrated our small victory with a trip to Pass-a-Grille beach in St. Pete. Having begun our day so early, we arrived at the beach early enough to have a choice spot in the sand with not too many neighbors, and to enjoy the warm and breezy weather without feeling brutalized by the sun's strong rays. We read books and bought a paddle ball set. We played a rather lengthy game of paddle ball (which Joe later referred to as "beach tennis"), a highlight of which was when Joe dove for the ball and not only missed the ball, but also threw his paddle into the air in an awkward attempt to return the hit. The image of all three things in midair (the ball, the paddle, and Joe) weakened me with laughter throughout the remainder of our game.

After leaving the beach and stopping at Wild Oats for snacks--a weekend favorite of mine any time of year--we came home to our sunny and quiet street and Joe napped while I drowsily watched episodes of a guilty favorite, "What Not to Wear."

Later in the afternoon, we decided to practice for a softball game we committed ourselves to participating in at USF. Joe, having grown up playing and being a spectator of baseball, taught me how to throw, catch, and hit. We found a park that looked like it would serve our needs and keep the ball relatively contained if hit with a decent amount of power. The fence we were relying on to contain the softball happened to belong to a private tennis court at a condominium complex. We only discovered this after Joe hit the ball over the fence and we couldn't figure out a way into the court, which was surrounded by 10-foot fencing all around. To our great fortune, there was a lower fence, maybe six feet high, extending from one side of the higher fence that would let us into the yard around the court so we could reach the gate. Joe climbed over the lower fence and made it to the gate, which he discovered was locked. The chain that kept the gate locked allowed about six inches of slack where one could conceivably squeeze through the gate opening and into the court. Joe couldn't quite make it through, so he called for me to come over. My mindset is usually such that I think I can do anything before I've actually tried it, so I began climbing the lower fence as Joe was coming around to help me. Now let me state that this lower fence has sharp points of metal along the top bar, presumably to keep people from climbing it. Since placing my hands on top of the fence was painful, yet I wanted to take my time getting over, I perched myself on top, trying to balance on just my two feet. This worked for several victorious seconds, and then, slowly realizing I was losing my balance, I began to tip backward as Joe screamed out for my life. I instinctively reached backward with my right hand and caught hold of the higher fence, saving myself from a disastrous fall. In the end I managed to get over the fence with Joe's help, and then squeeze through the gate to rescue our $2.99 softball. We decided that Joe shouldn't hit anymore, since his power had been demonstrated, and so I took to the bat, safely hitting my ground balls, and even more safely missing the ball all together. But then we discovered I had a bit of power in me as well, and on a fluke, I hit the beloved ball over the fence and into the tennis court all by myself. We studied the situation for a moment, and then decided practice was over and we would drive around this time to retrieve the ball.

I came away from the incident mostly unscathed with only a couple of scratches and bruises--oh, and a sore chest cavity the next day from when, during the "catch" portion of my training, I failed to react and the ball hit me smack in the middle of the chest. I told Joe after practice that I was compensating for a relatively safe and unadventurous childhood. But as the soreness of the next day set in, and I reflected on what could have happened, I realized I was perhaps too old and aware of consequences to now enjoy the recklessness of chasing cheap balls.


Anna said…
Love it! Who would have thought...a Davidson twin choosing to play softball (without being forced to in middle school P.E.). Congrats on your run! We'll have to plan one together soon.
ablakeslee said…
I say it often, so I will say it again. I am so proud of this wondrous, contributor to society, talented, funny young woman you are. I LOVED your blog and got quite tickled imagining Joe in mid air along with his paddle. I WINCED at the part of you straddling the fence...and cheered out loud when you hit the ball outside the park.
I can't wait for the next installation. Love, Auntie Adrienne
Joe said…
I think I spent half my youth retrieving balls from private places; yards, gardens, fenced in properties. I don't think I'll ever get used to the fact that I have enough money to buy a new ball!
Paula said…
Dear Pensive,
Reading your blog with GREAT joy, glimpse of your life I otherwise would have missed! What blessed God bestowed such a lovely creature from my loins.......or whatever! I love your writing, am so happy for the fun loving days filling your life and for Joe. Love, Mom
shelby said…
As a kid, we played baseball in the street in front of our house. Marie was a neighbor who lived up the hill and across the street (right field). Woe unto the batter who hit a ball into Marie's yard...she didn't like us and kept any balls she got to first. He who hit the ball had to retrieve it and quickly before she discovered it.
Hope to read more in the future.
Keep running. Keep playing. Stay young.

Love to both of you,
Jonathan said…
I was never one for softball or baseball because mom found it a bit 'too dangerous' when I was a lot younger and she was content to just let me develop my (much safer)drawing talents instead... :)

I love your writing style and can't wait to read more! Have a great week and tell Joe I said hi!!

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