Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sirius is visible and it is 6:00 p.m.

There is something about the sun's rays during this time of year on a clear day at roughly 6:00 p.m. that conjures up all sorts of memories for me. I had one of those nostalgic flash backs yesterday as we walked in the vicinity of Tuesday Tunes.

What was my first memory of this time of day and this time of year? I asked myself. It was eerie.

Perhaps it was watching baseball games in 1950 and 1951 as we traveled the circuit of North County League baseball? My now oldest sibling (home for the summer from Penn State) and his lovely sweetheart (and soon to be wife) somehow saw fit to pack the three youngest of us in his 1939 Ford and follow the Volant (PA) team from community to community: Eastbrook at the old high school (where Aleene attended 9th grade) to see baseball being played on the field that actually went up hill in left field and where right field ended in a drop-off; New Wilmington, Pulaski, Leesburg (really #5 Mine), Edinburgh, and of course our favorite Volant where foul balls might end up floating in the mill race nearby.

We had motivation to watch these guys play, of course. There was a pitcher for the Volant team that had eyes for sister Phyllis. His family connected with ours on several levels: patients of dad's and owners of the general store in the little village where our family once had a very rustic cottage on the Neshannock River...or krick as we called it. Todd was my idol too because he was arguably the best pitcher we would see all summer and what he did fascinated me.

The sun, unhindered by clouds, yielding 80-85 degree temperatures shone from the west creating either difficult playing situations or cast shadows by trees or hills left an indelible impression.

Maybe the nostalgic pangs have their genesis in 1952, the first summer I played ball. Our team would pack into cars and travel to Wampum (where we faced two future major leaguers...Dick Allen and his brother Harold), New Wilmington, Bessemer...and of course our home field at Walmo. The excitement coupled with nerves of playing 1st base for the Neshannock Township team heightened my awareness. It was that time of day to play the game I loved.

A few years later the 6:00 p.m. shadows during the dog (Sirius) days of summer meant harvesting late...wheat, oats, hay...which always meant a trip to the river (the Neshannock Creek or krick) to wash off the day's dust and dirt. Mother always made us take a bar of soap to take a really good bath at our favorite swimming hole. Maybe the feeling of a job accomplished followed by a pleasurable swim branded me with the memories of hot July and August early evenings.

Our neighbor, a jeweler in town, insisted that dog days meant that the heat was so intense that canines were forced to continually pant to stay alive. My dad, the ex-scoutmaster and amateur astronomer, reminded me that the presence of the Dog Star (Sirius...not yet of satellite radio reknown) during late July and August and thought by the ancients to cause hot weather was where the term came from.

Either way, the feelings precipitated by the shadows cast stayed with me at sea during the mid-1960s when I would venture up near the flight deck to take in the beauty of most likely the Mediterranean Sea since I spent the dog days of two summers there. And those were impressionable experiences.

I got that feeling again last night as we walked up town...and I wasn't satisfied until I routed it out my memory and fleshed out the reason for my trip down Memory Lane. Thanks for going along for the ride.

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