Fine days

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sept. 27. 2007

Dear Pat,

As my friend Don and I left the stadium after the baseball game between the Cardinals and Cubs, a sax man out on the street played Coltrane's version of "My Favorite Things." Baseball is one of them. Though the Cardinals lost, it was a fine day.

Don and I could only get standing-room-only tickets. We stood against a railing in left field four stories above the playing field. The left-fielder looked like a character in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." It was a fine day.

The Cardinals have had a season plagued by injuries and even the death of a pitcher. They also have been thrilling and dramatic. A baseball game is like a crusade without the killing. Each team uses its talents and wiles to defeat the other. The players are extraordinarily well paid, but I think true baseball players play to earn the love and respect of the people who believe in them, their fans.

A golf course just before dusk is another of my favorite things. Most of the other golfers have finished their rounds. The greenkeepers might have already brought in the flagsticks. Birds are singing lullabies. The world seems to have stopped. At least it's slowed down.

My drive rises over the horizon and drops into the setting sun. It's so quiet I can hear my shot land on the green with a soft thump. Darkness is coming. The grain of the green has disappeared. I know it will reappear in the morning. I walk to my car happy.

In "Golf's Three Noble Truths," James Ragonnet says the Navajo teach their children that each sun is a new sun born at dawn and extinguished forever at dusk. It is a way of teaching children to think of each day as special. He quotes Rumi, the Sufi poet, saying the same thing. "There are one hundred ways to kneel and kiss the earth."

One morning last week as Don and I were playing golf, we walked up to a tee box to a sight I'd never seen on a golf course before. Hundreds of black birds -- Don thought they might be grackles -- were having breakfast on the fairway in front of us.

The fairway looked like a pointillist painting. We were just too near to discern the bigger picture. If only we'd been four stories above then.

The birds were oblivious to us. We stood and just watched them. And watched them.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a reporter for the Southeast Missourian.

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