I particularly prefer the summer season, even though the solstice brings shorter days afterward.
Softball season is enjoyable, even in the heat. We practice during the day once or twice before playing games to acclimatize ourselves to the 95 degrees we can expect at game time after work, and the season seems to end just when I've gotten used to playing again after a nine month hiatus. It's our nineteenth season and most on the team only began playing with us this year. Learning to all play together with many new people has been both a challenge and a pleasure. Amber was three years old when she started coming to our games, and began playing with us ten seasons ago -- now our most experienced team member except for the coach. In two weeks, the season will end too quickly when we've all had so much fun.
High school reunion season is over and it was a good one. It was nice to see so many people I hadn't seen in at least ten years, and a few attended who hadn't previously been to one of our reunions. My original camping buddy Rodney came to the reunion and we caught up more on old times than we had in years.
In late Summer 1979, Rodney and I undertook a series of camping adventures centered around bonfire parties at Moore Lake and Silver Lake in southwest Tallahassee. College kids and even Leon County's then-Sheriff Ken Katsaris would gather and party around a huge fire on weekend nights and it was good clean fun. Rodney and I had been to a couple of parties and decided to camp out after the next one. We didn't even bring a tent. We brought a couple of sleeping bags and his white station wagon known for its breakdowns, but not when we were camping, and two quail his mom Joanna had given us to roast, and we started early. We cooked the birds over a fire, ate dinner and then went to the party, which lasted well into the night, and then we just spread out our sleeping bags on the ground and crashed for the night.
It was such fun, we told our friends, and soon several of us were going camping every weekend unless it rained. We would pick up interesting things along the way to add to the campfire, from friends or in trash piles by the side of the road. A giant rocking horse and a plastic pinball machine are the most memorable combustibles, besides the bicycle, which we found ablaze when we arrived. Perhaps smoldering would be the better word, which I might be using to stretch the story a bit, as we were asked quite clearly about it by officials and the bike's owner the next morning. They seemed dubious when we told them, "We found it burning when we got here." At the very least, the bike was in poor shape when we found it at our campsite, but by morning, there wasn't much of it left.
Rodney said, "Mitch, we shouldn't call it 'camping' -- we should say we are 'going burning.'" Rodney grew up to be a firefighter.
During our last primitive family camping trip, our old second tent began letting in rain, so I bought one of those new Coleman instant tents last week. I am hoping to go camping one more time this year and see whether it really sets up in ninety seconds. We don't bring bicycles.
The kids and I drove to the coast for sun, salt water and sand twice this summer and I am hoping for one more visit with them before "winter" -- those three or four non-consecutive weeks between January and March during which frost threatens at the Tallahassee Municipal Airport, but not at our house.
After softball, the Halloween season begins more in earnest for me, though I am more prepared at this point in time for October than in many years previously. If I heard of a costume contest this weekend, I could be ready.
I am planning to spend a few days with friends in Orlando before Fall, and Donna and I have a cruise trip to the Bahamas planned with Godby High School alumni in January, but I know that all too soon, I will be reminiscing about the crazy busy and fun days of this summer, and looking forward to the next one.