Saturday, August 22, 2009

Traveling Into Tomorrow

The Little League World Series is on in the family room. Normally, trying to write while the television is on simply "kills my mojo." Tonight though, it is actually my inspiration -- well, the game is, anyway.

About five years ago, "the roadtrip bug" was creeping its way into my every thought. Road trips have always been our preferred method of escape. As another school year was encroaching on our lazy August afternoons, and my denial had become no match for the uncertainty and pressure of a failing marriage, escape was an inviting option.

I checked out some destinations far enough away to "get away" but close enough to cover in a long weekend on a small budget. I decided on the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Horseback riding, canoeing, and a scenic train ride were all within a few miles of an inexpensive, clean little lodge in the "middle of town." Perfect.

As we drove, anticipating the nuances that come with travelling to a new location, we talked excitedly about the things around us. We wondered where those riding in the lanes next to us were headed. We pointed out cloud shapes and the patchwork colors of rolling hills of farmland. We looked for deer and fox, marvelled at "painted" bands cut into the rock that towered above us along the road, and drew in the fresh clean smells of the country. Of course, even my children knew, our road trip would not have been complete without a stop at Starbucks on the turnpike, or a nostalgic meal at the Red Rabbit Drive-In on Route 22 in Duncannon, PA.

Now personally, I have learned more about baseball in the past three years then I had ever wished to know in my life. Joe is a fount of baseball information. I am amazed by his diligence and commitment to the game and its players; he spouts off statistics from years before he was born and maintains surveillance on the Phillies like an AC pit boss. However, at the time of our Grand Canyon roadtrip, I had not had the pleasure of dating my future husband or meeting my future stepson. So, as we began to drive toward Williamsport, I was oblivious to the town's significance, particularly in the last days of August. Traffic had started to form, and I thought there had been some sort of accident or emergency. I noticed the area was abuzz with what seemed to be a majority of families, and businesses were -- well, very busy; I imagined a county fair or fireworks. "Best to wait this out," I thought. The sun was just beginning to set, so we pulled to the side of the road to look out over the mountains and hills, watching the colors emerge and slowly sink back out of sight. As darkness crept over the heavens, the sky around Williamsport began to glow with the 1000 watt lamps of ambition. Back in the truck again, we passed the first sign welcoming little leaguers, and I suddenly realized the local radio station we'd been listening to was hyping up its listeners for the big game, The Little League World Series.

We moved on that day; we had our destination as did those players and their families. But, each August when the news turns to the series I can't help but remember those fleeting days, as summer was bidding farewell, and even its warm breeze seemed to carry within it the golds and saffrons of fall. When I stood by the roadside, with the dusty greens and characterless browns of unspoiled acres fading into the darkness of night. Watching the day, watching the summer, and maybe even an entire period of our lives come to a close. Not knowing exactly what was up ahead, in a new day, a new season, but knowing that it was there and as we moved toward it, it was ours to capture and steward.
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