Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fortuitous Thunder

Blowfish Chronicles: Fortuitous Thunder





Fortuitous Thunder




Despite fond memories of family vacations in
national parks, I have never been one for mountains and forests and hiking and
climbing and camping, favoring instead complacent walks in the company of trees
in close proximity to houses. I even used to say that my idea of a great summer
getaway was lying in bed with a big stack of magazines in a motel room with
cable. Later, however, when my work began to require long hours of reading, I
would rest my eyes on horizons, feeling a need for at least contemplative
contact with life in the out of doors, and it has lately come to me as an
indefatigable observer at the Cap that a baseball field is just the landscape
for a man who wishes to commune with nature while keeping an eye on society. I
mean society as it endeavors to maintain a public order against which continual
challenges are mounted, challenges inflamed by taunting temptations tossed at
subversives by a man on a miniature hill.

Led or let-down by its own most prominent member,
society takes care of business, striking out three in a row, or falls apart,
giving up endless hits and runs and bases on balls, throwing wild pitches in
flurries, or develops or disintegrates to a degree somewhere between these two
extremes during different delineated periods of time on any given evening.

This is the general idea. Here is a particular
history. On the twentieth evening of June, on a field of constant green, under
a sky fading in deepening twilight through shades of blue, to indigo, the
society of our guys calmly suppressed a succession of subversives collectively
known as the Tobs. This team, from the wilds of Wilson, North Carolina, was
granted, in partial reparation for three runs scored by the Fish, one run of
its own, in the fourth of five innings. Five innings are the minimum required
for a “lead” to become a “win,” and so upon the completion of these five
innings Fish manager Tim Medlin pointed out to an understanding ump the
imminence of a storm.

It had been skulking around in fraught breezes
since the bottom of the third. The infield tarp was trundled out and at first
seemed merely precautionary, but forty minutes after the game was suspended
ominous gusts of wind hurled down thunderous sheets of rain lit with bolts of
lightening, and your bleacher-seat lover of nature was actually a little
scared. It was hard to believe that during what turned out to be the last
half-inning of the game I had been so mellow, thinking how neat the Tob
T-shirts looked, applied like bright-yellow dabs of paint to complement the

Most people who had not left the stadium had
repaired downstairs to the concourse, at the behest of the Blowfish announcer,
who had encouraged their patronage of the vendors, and as I slipped down for a
snack myself an atmosphere of cloistered conviviality reminded me of the feasting
in the mead hall in Beowulf before
its attack by Grendel.

But I was back at my
perch when the storm hit, there to be refreshed by sprinkles that befell me
through a porous roof, and along with ten or fifteen other dawdlers who had
decided to seek shelter in view of the field, in the only seats with overhead
protection, I moved around to avoid the wet gusts of wind loudly blowing in
upon us from one side and then another. When the director of media relations
offered us sanctuary in the press box, I took it, out of trepidation of the
weather, to be sure, but also for a chance to see the field as seen each
evening by the Blowfish impresarios. It is seen through panes of glass, with
the acoustic surround of the park naught but ambient sound.  Now a partially shrouded wetland, the green
was both diminished and enlarged, as if it were a picture of the out of doors
on a panoramic screen, and looking out upon it, from within the box, with less
peripheral vision, I was able to brave what remained of an angry preemption of
the regularly scheduled programming.

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