Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An Acre of Dreams Come True

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

An Acre of Dreams Come True

Article excerpt

It takes a hard squint to see the possibilities for a muddy swatch of field, dotted with late-winter snow and littered with shreds of corn stalks left from the harvest. But my father's eyes were edged with the furrows that form when one has looked hard at fields and life. He saw no mud in the full acre of soggy field for sale before him. He saw only fertile ground, just right for growing dreams.

"Let's buy it," he said. Seeing the dreamy look in his eyes, no one questioned him.

At first we called it "the land," a title suggesting we were owners of something akin to a small, unsettled nation. That spring, my father marked off a corner of the land, and tilled an area large enough to satisfy my mother's desire to grow strawberries and tomatoes. The rest of the land, seemingly grateful for a break from growing field corn, made good return on a heavy sowing of Kentucky bluegrass. In a matter of weeks, our field had turned into a great expanse of turf, inspiring us to change its name to "the lot." The lot gave us grass to mow, weeds to pull, vegetables to pluck, and a place to track down an occasional garter snake. But mostly, it gave us a place to think, play, and imagine. While coddling her baby berry plants, my mother talked of curtains, cabinets, and carpet. My father spoke of a two-story house with a blacktop drive. I imagined a bedroom with a window seat overlooking a rose garden and a shady lawn wrapped in a white picket fence. My three brothers, however, had a different idea. Surveying the freshly mown grass, my little brother declared, "Hey, we've got a baseball field!" We had almost forgotten what it was like to play a backyard version of our beloved game. For a time, we had managed to adapt the game to the Lilliputian yard of our city home. But my brothers' hitting abilities soon came into conflict with the neighbor's garage, forcing us to bunt or go for a fly ball over the roof. Our approach worked fairly well, except for one ill-placed window. The window hung about where the shoulder of a second baseman might have been, if we'd had one. The window had a way of acting as a target, and one of us - on a regular basis - hit the bull's eye. Its dimensions and my father were well-known at the local hardware store. One day, our neighbor traded his patronage of public transportation for an aging Cadillac. He parked it in his driveway, a place we had defined as left field. It was only a matter of time before that absurdly large windshield became our next target - but only once. In a single heroic moment, that great expanse of glass fielded one of the hardest line drives in our history, putting an end to backyard baseball. "The lot," however, promised its return. Home plate formed in the very place I had imagined a white lilac should grow. Before long, "the lot" had become "the diamond. …

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