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Ramble with Storm: Updike, World Cup & rabbits

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storm3x Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.

A rabbit bolted from the underbrush across the open grass patch before the town pond. The meathead, naturally, surged to give chase.

And John Updike and the World Cup came to mind.

That's probably more of an indication of how my brain works than anything.

My theory on the plethora of rabbits is related to a combination of our nice spring (better survival) and our wet June (more plant growth providing cover from coyotes, owls and evil free-ranging and feral cats).

That's my theory.

Mulling that theory took me to one of the most haunting passages in 20th Century American literature. At least for me.

It's been about 30 years since I read it, but Updike opened Rabbit, Run with a basketball-court scene, which evoked memories of what once was for the Harry ``Rabbit'' Angstrom as he watched a couple young guys play before joining them.

For me, it is short hop to soccer. Soccer is doubly fresh in my head coming off the World Cup.

And because soccer is to me what basketball was to Rabbit.

Baseball was and is my love in life. But I could actually play soccer, though more as a brush with greatness than anything.

As a freshman in college, I played with Jay Moyer, a guy said to be a Parade All-American soccer player. He's also a cousin or second cousin or something to Jamie Moyer. Of course, Moyer, our soccer player not the ageless pitcher, was bumped up to starting varsity within a day or two and I stayed on the JV before focusing on sportswriting the next season.

I played club ball during and after college with a guy who had a tryout with the Chicago Sting at the time when they were on their way to their first North American championship.

My best friend was an All-Midwest midfielder in college.

I was a fringe player at best, though a decent cherry picker playing beside great players.

That's where the connection to Rabbit comes.

One of the moments in life when I felt most connected to all the nuances of the world was on a summer evening after high school and before college.

It was a semi-formal pickup soccer practice.

Late in the game, I broke toward the goal perfectly just as my best friend drilled a pass. As I sprinted past the fullback fully onside, the ball came to me on my left foot, as I correctly intuited it would. In full stride, I did a one-touch to my right foot and drilled it into goal off the near post. The goalie was completely frozen.

I remember walking back toward midfield nonchalantly as though I executed that play every day. And how my best friend, a real soccer player, kept slapping my back, the back of my head and high-fiving.

It was a nothing pick-up game, and was everything.

If I was doing an Updike sort of novel, it would begin there.

Considering my brain, like most people's, is a multi-media player, I usually hear Bruce Springsteen shouting out the gut-wrenching ``Glory Days'' about the same time.

It goes on.

Friday night, the 5-year-old wanted to play a pick-up game to 10 before coming in at dark.

My goal was the sand box. His goal was the flower bed of hostas along the entire back side of the house. (My wife is not particularly enamored with his goal, but she puts up with it. I'm not particularly enamored with hostas, but that's another story.)

For whatever reason, it all flooded back, the utter joy of a toe touch spin and pull, then the tap cleanly into goal (ball roostertailing a tiny trail of sand before ricocheting off Tonka trucks).

10-9 he took the match in a surging battle across the pitch of our backyard. He has skills, keeping the ball closer than most kids of any age, before making his shot.

Rabbits hop all over.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 19, 2010 8:33 AM.

Buck of the Week: Melanistic buck? was the previous entry in this blog.

Wild Tuesday: More on Kankakee mussels (revised) is the next entry in this blog.

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