106 / 365 – Baseball

SARAH BERGMAN

Snow again this morning. Just a whisper and a dusting over everything. But a reminder that the winter persists. It’s not the temperatures here that get you, it’s the persistence of winter.

Talk in the cafe in the morning is turning to seeding and baseball. People worrying about the dry winter, what will it mean to the harvest. Most of the guys talking aren’t farming, but they’re connected to everybody. Brothers and sisters, cousins and nephews, uncles and aunts. It matters to everybody. Nobody is a stranger here. What happens to the farm down the road matters. That family is part of your family.

I guess I get to be a part of this because of Erik. Because my daughter goes to school with their sons and daughters. At first I kept myself apart. Everyone was so different from people around the university in Boston. I knew that from times we used to visit. I didn’t talk. I didn’t want people to think I was the strange outsider. Then one day I realized that my silence made me the strange outsider. If people think I’m strange and different, they’re polite enough not to say anything. For most people, I think I’m just the woman with the cafe. An eccentric old lady, maybe, but part of the town.

At least that is how it seems, when I come down the counter and refill their cups of coffee. Or hand them sections of the newspaper that others have left in booths, because I know them enough to know they’ll be wanting to read it. They’re talking baseball, about the Twins. I don’t know much about baseball except it was something we did every spring, a ritual of spring. The first sunny days, the smell of freshly cut grass and peanuts and beer and the hard seats at the old stadium. You hear the crack of the bat and the ball flies and you yell. Just because it’s spring.

I don’t know if these guys have ever seen a baseball game, except on TV. Most of them listen to the Twins on the radio. They read the box scores in the River Valley Tribune. They talk about it as if they were there. This morning Mike Engels came by to get coffee on his way into school. He got into it with one of them, Dick Morstad I think. Some bad play in the fifth inning. “I couldn’t believe that!” They were going on about it as if they had all been standing by third base, watching disaster happen. Like it was the neighbor’s kid playing and screwing up. I wonder if they would enjoy it half as much if they were sitting cramped inside a stadium.

Baseball always meant Spring had arrived in Boston. Here it seems to mean that it’s coming soon. Planting season and warmth are around the corner. The daylight has come, now bring on the rest.

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