Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Glimpse Into The World of Football

With summer basketball finished, it's time to begin football. Both sons are playing this year, one for the Juniors and one for JV. I've never been a true blue football fan, but after watching the oldest play for the first time last fall, I've become more interested in it. We go to their practices, set up our chairs, then settle in to watch for two hours. Sometimes I take a book or my computer, but mostly I just watch. Last night was the first practice for this season, and both boys went to work like football was in their genes. Definitely a guy thing.

My husband is in heaven, having two boys playing football. Though he's not the biological father of the kids, he has always acted like he is. He's always treated the kids like he's the one who was there to change diapers, nurse them when they were sick, help them with homework, or whatever. Even when he talks about the kids, it's "my kids." He is the only father the kids have known for the last seven years, so all three of them look to him as "dad." Though they still call him by his first name, I've noticed when they refer to him to their friends, at times they just call him Dad. These days, Dad is loving every minute of watching two young boys play football.

While I'm not a huge football fan, I do like what I see it doing to my oldest son. He used to be incredibly timid, and I think a lot of this is my fault. He's always been so much bigger than his brother that I've constantly reinforced the idea of being gentle. Though they are only two years apart, physically they look five years apart. My oldest is only 12, but most people mistake him for being 16, 17. He's going into 7th grade, standing 5'8" and weighing 167 pounds. Most boys his age are several inches shorter and quite a few pounds lighter. All of his friends are shorter and lighter, and up until last fall, my son showed how his height and weight made him feel out of place. By the end of football season, after the coach encouraged him to use the advantage he owned exactly because of that height and weight, my son started walking a little straighter. He used to round his shoulders to appear shorter, but now he puts those shoulders back and actually loves to show just how tall he is. And at the last two practices, he's shown that he remembers what he learned last year and how he's capable of putting it into action. It's a lot of fun to see him so confident.

Even his brother is getting into the mix of football. He's a little hothead, so being able to hit people legitimately is much to his liking. The grin on his face after practice says so much more than words ever could, and listening to the two boys talk football during the ride home offers a little bit of insight into their relationship (which has always been a close one). I can see the two becoming even closer, sharing something that to a large degree excludes the rest of us. They have their own little world, and that's kind of cool to see.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Winding Down

With summer vacation winding down, my thoughts are turning to returning to work. The time for getting paperwork in order is approaching, and I'm of two minds about it. Part of me is ready to get back into the routine of classes, but another part of me is resisting the idea of having to live by that routine. One last week remains before I have to hang up my summer hat.

We returned yesterday from a week traveling. My husband's job is secure for another six months, so we decided to take the summer vacation we'd canceled a couple of weeks ago. Our journey started with a return to two of my childhood homes. I hadn't seen either home for more than 30 years. Part of me was really hoping both homes would be the exact same now as they were so many years ago. Unfortunately, neither were. My favorite of the two, an old farmhouse with a a long drive and a big red barn out back is now mostly just the farmhouse. The barn is gone, and many of the trees from the front yard, along the drive, are gone as well. Even the old windmill that we climbed as kids is no longer part of the scenery. The only reason I knew it was the house we lived in many years ago was the address on the mailbox. It seemed to be the only thing that hadn't changed.

From there, we went north, through Michigan to Mackinac City. We spent the night there, in a little red cabin. I awoke during the night and lay there listening to the quiet. The next morning, my husband asked if I had noticed how still and quiet the night had been. This was surprising as we were right in the middle of hotel row. That little red cabin insulated us from the outside world.

The next day we traveled into Canada, to Sault St. Marie then on to Little Current. Little Current captured my heart. This small, quiet harbor village is the essence of quaint. I could live there and be completely happy. Sailboats from faraway places pulled in for the night, and we had a great view of them from our room in the Anchor Inn, an old building housing a restaurant/bar and rooms that conjure up images of lovers secretly meeting and hiding from the world. I'm going to go back there one day.

After a night in Little Current, we caught the ferry to Tobermory. Our hotel here was away from the busyness of this tourist spot. We sat in adirondack chairs on the lawn, our view again that of docked sailboats. Other vacationers sat with us, the soft murmur of voices along with the boats rubbing against the docks, water lapping against the rocks, the only noises drifting across the air.

From Tobermory, we made our way to Toronto. After being away from dense populations, Toronto was a shock. None of us liked Toronto per se. We liked the CN Tower, the city lights at night, and getting to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, but the mass of people we could do without. We left a day early to head on to Buffalo, NY. Our last day was spent at Niagra Falls, with a ride on Lady of the Mist, then just sitting and enjoying the falls.

Not a bad way to finish off the summer. In fact, I'm very grateful for being able to take the trip, see parts of Canada that were absolutely beautiful and parts that were not, as well as parts of the US I'd never seen before. I have lots more memories for my memory bank, memories that I can pull out and laugh over years down the road.

Hanging up the summer hat won't be so bad I guess. It does seem now, as I think back over the past week, that my summer cup certainly is full, even overflowing. Life is good.