It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, the picture is worth just over 450. For day three of the week, I thought I’d try something a little different from my usual essays. I’d love to hear what you think, positive, negative or anywhere in the middle. Enjoy!
A soft breeze drifts through the backyard, drawing a slight rustle from the leaves in the neighbors’ trees. The trees that used to tower above the yard, whose leafy tendrils had formed a canopy that practically blocked out the sun entirely, have been felled. One massive stump is now a work table, currently holding smaller blocks of wood whose future use has yet to be determined. The other two still reach about ten feet high but their branches have been replaced by a single wooden beam that crosses the space between them. A swing hangs down in the middle, a trapeze and pair of rings to its left.
The sounds of conversation fill the air. The talk is of dresses, dates and venues, new employment opportunities, the logistics of moving to new houses and the various adventures that are still to come. The chatter is interrupted periodically by the soft thwack of a ball hitting leather. Two young men stand apart, tossing a ball back and forth between them, while a third stands nearby and only occasionally makes a throw because he does not have his glove. The family resemblance is plain. They share the same high cheekbones and broad grins. The mischievous twinkles in their eyes. The soft-spoken confidence and implicit trust in each other.
The eldest, standing apart without his glove, mentions having developed the yips from not having played catch in years and promptly bounces a throw five feet in front of his brother. His brother leaps to catch the next throw, which sails over his outstretched glove. The eldest apologizes again and gradually works into a rhythm. Their father, watching nearby, asks about his middle son’s current opportunities to play, which leads to a discussion of the Cubs’ poor performance and the defense of front office moves targeted toward long-term success. The consistent thwack continues.
A young boy shouts, “Da-dee!” and runs over to the eldest gleefully, latching onto his father’s leg with a tight hug. His father runs his hand over the boy’s hair and rubs his back. The boy then shifts his attention to his uncles, points his finger and demands, “Ball!” The youngest brother picks up a nearby tennis ball, lowers himself to a crouch, instructs the toddler to put his hands out and tosses the ball softly. The boy fumbles the catch but picks up the ball and lofts it just over his uncle’s shoulder. The group applauds and the boy’s face is lit up with his smile. The suggestion is made that the males should all gather for a picture. The brothers and their father gather close together and the toddler climbs up into his father’s arms. The boy’s mother counts to three and the same broad grin makes its presence known in all five faces.