Saturday, May 29, 2021

(Left) field of dreams

Peering through the outfield fence
Tillsonburg, ON
May 2021
This photo originally shared on Instagram

When I was a kid, my parents signed me up for little league baseball, and thanks to my relative lack of skills in this sport - or any team sport, frankly - I was relegated to left field.

While baseball clearly wasn't my thing, left field turned into a happy place where I sat in the grass, picked buttercups, and learned how to spot planes as they drew lines in the blue skies high above.

Every once in a while, I'd hear yelling from far away, and I'd interrupt my flowerpicking and planespotting to fetch an errant ball that had somehow made it all the way to my solitary playground.

It was before the era of participation ribbons for everyone, so I'm left with memories instead of dusty tchatchkes on a shelf. But those memories are fuzzy and warm.

Out there in left field, I learned to appreciate the lore of the sport. As much as I was never destined to become an All Star - or even an Any Star - I came to love the game as well as the fields where it is played. These magical places are filled with echoes and shadows and untold stories, and to this day I'm drawn to them.

And so it was in Tillsonburg, where the outfield fence and its ads for local businesses caught my eye. My old baseball field, long since bulldozed in favor of a half-empty strip mall, was never sophisticated enough to merit billboards in the outfield.

But this scene somehow took me back to a place and time where even lousy ballplayers like me could find their place, and where buttercups still grew in the overgrown grass far from the rest of the crowd.

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