It's getting to be that time of year. The time of year when temperatures climb, birds start chirping a little louder and more often, everything thaws, rivers swell, thunderstorms roll in (one's starting right now, as I type!), and the grass gets greener. And, most importantly to me, the two most welcome words are heard: "Play ball."
The first time that I walk into a stadium and catch a glimpse of the freshly-mowed grass, my eyes tear up a little (mainly due to allergies, but due a little bit to the sheer beauty of a baseball diamond. I really wish my allergies shared the same feelings on freshly-cut grass as I do. I love the smell, love seeing it, but my allergies do not so much) and I start to feel like spring has really started. Even if it's only a college game, or a minor league game, or just a pick-up game with some friends, baseball brings out some of the best memories and emotions for me. I remember playing T-Ball when I was younger, having a line drive hit to me when I was playing second base. I stuck my glove into the air and my face towards the ground, and somehow made the catch. I remember playing catch with my dad, and then going to watch him play for the Moose Lodge softball team, picking up the basic rules of the game and watching the enjoyment of the older guys playing. I remember my dad pitching the whiffle ball to me, and me smacking it right back, literally knocking the glasses off his face. I remember playing with my dad and brother, having "ghost runners" and laughing while I stole bases. I remember hitting the home runs later in life, and my favorite defensive plays I've made (my personal favorite came from a charity 100-inning softball game I played in, when my team only had about 6 players on it at the time. We had a pitcher, catcher, I played the right side of the infield, another guy the left, and two outfielders. With a runner on second, the ball was hit to me, I tagged first base and made a perfect throw to third, right at the bag so the guy covering didn't even have to move his glove to tag out the sliding runner. I was proud of that throw), and also the pain in my shoulder that kept me from playing a lot and playing catch for too long. That's pretty much all better now, but at the time, it was kind of scary.
This time of year is also when the grills start getting dusted off, moved outside, and fired up. Hot dogs, burgers, brats, chops, ears of corn, even pizzas are delicious when flame-kissed and with some grill marks on them. One of these days, when I have a little better porch/patio area, I'll get one of those nice grills. But for now, I have a little charcoal guy that gets the job done, plus he was only $5. Not a bad deal.
So anytime that anyone is in the Iowa City area in the following months, let me know, I'll get the grill going, I'll break out the gloves and a ball, and we'll have ourselves a good old time. We could probably even catch a band coming through town, or just listen to some good tunes while we're cooking and eating and catching. Good times, all around.