by Louise Hogan
It is a sunny warm evening. Caroline is filling her bucket at the sandbox, and then carrying it across the yard to pour the sand into water in the upturned saucer sled. There she laboriously mixes it into proper mud pie consistency. She checks the thickness by painting the mud on a rock then turns the rock upside down and shakes it to make sure the mud stays in place.
Ryan talks me into playing baseball. He has brought out his ball, bat, two gloves and a helmet. He instructs me on how to put the helmet on properly then busies himself scattering blocks of wood around for the bases. Ryan becomes the pitcher while I become the batter with a too small helmet perched on my head. Although I do make it to first base a couple of times, I soon have three outs and am retired to pitching.
Ryan hits the first pitch and I scramble after it, and then turn to chase him as he rounds first.
“Hey, where’s second base?!!” he yells as we come to a screeching halt.
“Where ever you put it”, I yell back.
The thought crosses our minds at the same time and we both turn toward Caroline, who is happily painting a block of wood with mud.
An argument ensues while I sit down to catch my breath and share a grin with Avery who is looking down on the commotion from her perch at the top of a tree.
With second base restored in its rightful position, I pitch again. Foul ball. Third pitch – high hit over the swing set and Ryan completes a home run with one man in.
Next pitch. I am ready for a long one but Ryan bunts and I scramble forward to get the ball; I skid, drop the ball, grab it again as Ryan rounds first, second and ……”Caroline! PUT THAT BASE BACK!!!” Third base has been painted a muddy brown.
I lie down and stretch out gazing up at the blue sky as Avery smiles at me from her perch in the tree. The longer the fight takes, the longer I get to rest. Unfortunately, Dad comes to the window and quells the argument. Darn.
Finally, all bases are restored and we resume the game. Ryan is going easy on me by this time, but soon I am out and pitching again. Ryan hits one homer (at my pace, a homerun is anything I don’t immediately catch), then another.
He’s up for the final inning. I pitch high and wide. He hits it into the sandbox. I scramble. He rounds first; second; then “CAROLINE!!!!!” There, in place of third base, sits a basket with a stuffed bunny. Avery jumps down from the tree and is running, yelling, “HEY! That’s mine!” and grabs third base.
The game is called on account of sisters.