Softball season

"We've got hot dogs available for fifty cents at the concession stand. Hot dogs, fifty cents, come and get them while they last. We've also got hot fresh pizza, a dollar a slice. Come and get it while it's fresh…"

Despite bricks, insulation, and drywall, we can hear the noises from the nearby softball field. If our house is quiet at the time, we can make out most of what's being said over the complex's public-address system. When we first moved in, our neighbor joked that it was difficult, some Saturday mornings, to keep from turning off his lawnmower and wandering over to the softball field, spare change in hand.

In softball season, the floodlights wash over the end of our cul-de-sac, and slip through the cracks between the slats of our mini-blinds. Often they'll stay on until nearly eleven at night, and sometimes a bit later. The slatted pattern of light and dark slants over my side of the room and the bed. The light from the floodlights is brighter and whiter than the light of the full moon, whose bluer, more diffuse light comes later in the evening.

If I look carefully out the front windows of the house, I can just barely make out the nearest scoreboard. Sometimes I look, just to see the numbers, even though I never know the names of the teams that claim victory. After a while, they all blend together; their members are young, with high-pitched victory shrieks.

Their parents like to park illegally at the end of our cul-de-sac and walk up and down our street while their children warm up or play. They bring younger siblings, many of them still in strollers, and walk up and down the lane in the gathering twilight of the late Saturday afternoons.

I've toyed with locking up the house one Saturday afternoon and finding a seat in the bleachers. I know that from the bleachers my house is but one of many with a view of the softball complex; just as much a part of the scenery as the trees, the chalk lines, and the padded bases. But there's something a little off, a little strange, about walking over to watch a children's softball game when you don't know any of the children participating. Strangers with good intentions just don't do that.

But in every week of softball season, we receive our next installation in the ongoing win-loss saga. Judging by tonight's shrieks, the girls that just won a game are very young, indeed. Meanwhile, Jeff sleeps, catching a short nap in the bedroom to celebrate the beginning of his vacation.

I've had the ingredients lying around to do an upside-down pudding cake to celebrate the beginning of a week of rest for him. Perhaps this cake will be ready by the time he awakens. The kitchen, after all, is clean, and the baking isn't dependent on a certain team winning the game.

Welcome to Saturday in the suburbs.