Friday, December 10, 2010


[LATE NOVEMBER, 2002] Winter has descended on the Great Central Valley. I know because baseball ended about a month ago, at my hand, and that motorcycle excursions are less pleasant because of daggers of cold that seem to pinpoint fingertips wrapped around rubber grips. The sun seems to be absorbed by a pewter colored sky and leaves us no shadow. Jax, the pound-puppy Aussie dog burrows to the furthest corner of what used to be Sadie the Boxer's house. It's dark when one leaves for work and dark when one returns. Rather than smoking ribs next to a pecan wood fire, I brown beef and lamb and prepare a hearty stew. My hand is wrapped around a Black Butte Porter – a meal in itself and "early to bed" seems particularly sage advice. Oh, and did I mention? Baseball is over.

YESTERDAY, while my wife corrected papers or planned a quilt, I straddled the Beemer for a ride along the sensuous levee roads of Sutter, Yolo and Sacramento counties. I'd hoped to find the confluence of the Feather and the Sacramento where the clarity of the Sierran river mixes with the dogged labors of the artery that both feeds and drains the valley. No such luck. That pewter gray sky and the absolute stillness of the water in late November gave no clue as to the point of commingle-age. I had to be satisfied with the red leaves of the vines that dipped into the waters and the bright, broad gold leaves of some sort of bank tree I'd like you to think I could identify.

The "little" BMW handles these winding levee roads as if God had invented road purely for this motorbike. [Back in ’02, I was riding an R 1100 R “naked” Beemer. No windshield or fairing for protection from the elements.] Only occasionally did I think of my icy fingertips. More often I thought of Dusty Baker and how he'd not have this kind of enjoyment on his Harley. Of course, Dusty's in Chicago, now. And it's my fault.

THEY SAY THERE ARE NO SEASONS in California. I say there are two. Baseball and winter.

I just dropped two sliced and peeled turnips into the stew pot along with other vegetables. The house is beginning to have that comfort smell that isn’t present past mid-spring. I don't like turnips in my stew, however. Always try to pick them out when I eat. They look like potatoes, though and sometimes, I am dismayed by the texture and tang of the “potato” I have speared.

HERE'S THE DEAL: Bottom of the seventh. Sixth game. I'd purchased a less-than-moderately price bottle of champagne because, as I told Jax quietly, WE'REGONNAWINTHEWORLDSERIES!!! The wine was chilling, and at five to nothing, only nine outs to go, I thought I'd dust off a couple of flutes and place them on the front edge of the refrigerator shelf. You know. Kinda casual. Real quiet. Which I did.

Then, Dusty replaces Ortiz with Felix. I feel a little knot.

Sure enough: SWWAACCKKK! Three runs.

I want to pull the champagne flutes out of the fridge, but I already know it's too late: just like Linus doubting the Great Pumpkin for an instant.

NOW DUSTY'S in Chicago. Somebody from the South State has the trophy. (At least it's not the Dodgers.) Kent and Bell are likely gone. Those damned glasses are shoved to the back of the shelf -- I refuse to touch them -- and I'll be long dead before the Giants even see the playoffs again.

Yes. We have descended into the darkness that is winter. Long cold nights. Brief doses of late afternoon sunshine. An occasional ride along a levee or a fog-shrouded by-way. Hearty broth-based meals from a crock-pot. Husky beers. And no runs scored.

This one's on me.

© 2002
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. The Church of the Open Road regrets its complicity in the horrific 2002 circumstance. Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa.