Many of you probably know that for summer fun I have staked my claim in Livingston, Montana.
Recently I set off to find an Autumn location – and serendipitously stumbled into Colorado Springs after wandering in circles for only 2 weeks.
I even got a part-time job, how cool is that!
Two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means, by no means
King of the road
I’m not a ‘man for all seasons’ yet ‘cuz I don’t know where to hunker down for Winter or burst forth in Spring.
My father was a star athlete in multiple sports.
He even went on to play semi-pro baseball.
After dinner we would push back our chairs, tie a cloth napkin into a knot and play catch across the table. I never missed.
I mention this because I just caught a glimpse on TV of kids in this year’s Little League World Series. It’s a big deal, apparently, and it rekindled in me a memory from 60 years ago.
In 1954 I was an All-Star on the only Little League team from Lakeland, Florida that ever went to the World Series. I read online that today the kids are 11- and 12-years old, although I was only 10 at the time.
Boog Powell, later famous as an MVP first-baseman with the World Series (1966, 1970) Baltimore Orioles, and as a guzzling beer-drinker in the “more taste, less filling” Miller Lite commercials, was our pitcher. He was the biggest little leaguer anyone ever saw back then. Sometimes, when not playing third base, I was behind the plate as a catcher, and when Boog wound up and threw a fast ball into my mitt it would literally pick me up and knock me backwards.
Back then, the Little League tournaments were single-elimination. When you lost, you were out.
The Lakeland Orange All-Stars won eight straight games in the district, sectional and regional tournaments, outscoring their opponents, 38-9, to earn their trip to Williamsport.
After winning the district tournament in Dade City, Lakeland defeated Orlando and Fort Walton Beach in the sectional tournament in Lakeland.
That earned them a train trip to Greenville, N.C., for the South Regional tournament.
“I remember seeing the Tennessee team and they were just huge,” he [Charles Taylor, catcher & Boog Powell’s half-brother] said. “But they got knocked off before we played. And I remember thinking, `Whew. We don’t have to play Tennessee. Did you see those giants?’ “
With Tennessee out of the way, Lakeland defeated Middleburg, Ky., 8-3, Mooresville, N.C., 2-0, and Columbia, S.C., 6-0, to earn its trip to Williamsport.
Actually, to set the record straight, I was on the roster but didn’t make the trip to Williamsport to play in the World Series. My mother wouldn’t let me go. She said she had already planned a family vacation at the beach.
It would never have occurred to my mother that playing in a World Series might be important enough to one of her sons to rearrange a summer vacation.
I wish my dad could have had a say-so in this matter, but he suffocated in an iron lung 4 years earlier, when I was six.
I was a Little League All-Star the next year, too, when I was eleven.
In a playoff game in Plant City, ninth inning, we were behind 1-0 and I was the tying run on first base. (I had blasted two of our team’s total of three hits.) Ill-advisedly, I tried to score from first base on a looper to right field. I was thrown out by the proverbial mile.
I had another year of Little League eligibility, but I quit. A coach from the Pony League, the advanced age group of 13-15 year olds, told me (age 12) he would lie about my age and sneak me onto their team if I would play for them.
But by then I had developed an interest in golf and tennis.
Oh! – have I told you how I was almost famous… in golf? and tennis?
– Show no mercy to anyone who would violate this kind of trust –
[picture of Tzuri & oops by Ronnie Crapse]
As a flight instructor he was once up with a student when part of the propeller fell off.
He took over the controls, found an orange grove, and managed to bounce “softly” from tree to tree.
Both walked away from the crash.
He signed and dated a piece of the wrecked plane.
With such genetics I should have followed in his wings, right?
Actually, I toyed with the idea. Even tried (in 1967) to join the Air Force (mostly to stay out of the Army) but they said because I wore glasses I would never sit in the front seat of a fighter jet.
Then there was the other problem: the Dream. I kept seeing myself on my maiden voyage and the view was always upside down, like this…
What if I pulled out of a dive at the last minute to the applause of thousands and didn’t end up in a body bag after all?
Still time, do you think, for me to take flying lessons?
Foxy Mom knew exactly what she had to do. Her kit were far too playful and dependent, and they needed quick to grow up.
So she went out and snatched up a hapless ground squirrel.
SPOILER ALERT: read no further unless you can stomach other than a happy ending.
The badger mentioned in a previous post https://oopsjohn.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/foxy-lady/) returned with a vengeance.
Foxy Mom and the Bad-to-the Bone badger engaged in a vicious skirmish, pictures of which I don’t have but which from others have surfaced online. The badger managed to enter the fox den and remained there for several hours, until it got dark and photographers and observers were no longer able to see what was happening, and went home.
Foxy Mom and occasionally even Foxy Dad were seen the next morning camped outside the den, keeping watch, staring inside, apparently waiting for the culprit to emerge.
Momma Fox had also sometime during the night dug another den some 30 yards away. Whether or not the two kit were safely tucked deep down inside their new bunker or not is unknown.
Two days later, however, no badger, still no kit. Foxy Lady sits forlornly outside her second den and no kit have been seen for days.
The Law of Nature in its larger Wisdom has apparently claimed these two playful youngin’s.
What with her winter coat in tatters and the strain of having recently given birth, she struggles (not altogether unsuccessfully) to retain her regal appearance.
But patience, even for the biblical Job, has its limits. A good mother has to be constantly alert, and pay attention to the possibility of hurtful things well beyond the limited experience of her playful youngin’s.
I watched her stress level skyrocket as she ran back and forth for several minutes with nose high, jumping up on logs and boulders to scan the surroundings.
Something was not quite right, and she sensed it.
Sure enough, a badger suddenly scampered past the den and her unsuspecting kit. Fortunately, it was single-mindedly on its way somewhere else.
And sometimes, like with this badger incident when her nerves are frazzled, the kids simply get too much underfoot and snap at her once too often.
A swan with a secret is a thing of beauty.
If you wait patiently until she stretches you might just catch a glimpse of why she is so radiant.
The five eggs in this clutch each weigh @340 grams and will take 34-45 days to incubate.
Imagine her shock when her first born turned out to be not at all like herself! Then she remembered the story of “The Ugly Duckling,” and smiled.
But if First Born was not yet handsome at least he was inquisitive. Right away he demanded to know where he came from, and spent many long cygnet-hours staring at his beginnings trying to piece together the age-old puzzle.
Then, once he sort of understood the “chick ‘n egg” thing, he had a chat with his mom about that long neck of hers that reached so far up into the sky.
Like any good older brother, he decided to teach ‘Lil Sis a thing or two from his vast experience. “This is a twig,” he showed her. “One day you will need these to build a nest. See if you can pick it up.”
But ‘Lil Sis couldn’t coordinate that clumsy beak of hers and only managed to poke herself in the eye.
But alas, his sister was not much interested and obviously did not possess the requisite talent for existential conundrums. First Born gave her a good ‘tongue-lashing’ and made sure his mom was nearby so she would understand how smart he was compared to his obtuse little sister!
First Born realized that another sibling was due any moment now and he hoped it would be a smart little brother that he could bully and educate rather than another dumb sister who was no fun at all. So he sat down to wait…
Oh, no – another girl! With the same passive features and vacant stare!
First Born always carried himself with dignity. He stuck his little neck up as far as it would go and watched everything his mom did so one day he could grow up to be tall and competent, just like her.
In quick succession two more siblings climbed out of their shells.
But First Born didn’t have a chance to find out if these two were brothers or sisters because a mean lady came and snatched up the entire clutch and whisked them off to foster care.
The parents were bereft.
Fair and accurate reporting is usually dull and boring. It is far more interesting to craft narratives with villains and rough edges.
But I would be remiss not to point out that Samantha and the Parks & Recreation Dept. are trying to do the right thing. Last year not a single swan hatchling survived on Lake Morton.
This year, therefore, they are taking the cygnets into protective custody in the hope that they can be nurtured to maturity and re-released back into the wild in due time.
But recently I observed an interesting “grab ‘n go” technique by a hungry-looking snowy egret intent on snatching a ‘happy meal’ from a shallow pond.
He would launch himself from shore and glide low over the water.
Then, somewhat puzzlingly, he would drag his feet lightly across the surface.
What’s that all about, I wondered? Surely he can’t grab fish with his feet!
At times he almost seemed to be “walking on water.”
Suddenly I understood. At the last moment he would dig in and use his feet like rudders to maneuver his body and brake his momentum!