It’s the first day of the year that is warm enough to wear a t-shirt outside, a Saturday at 1:30pm. I’m sitting outside in a suburban housing development where people buy houses to raise families and no single person would dare to dwell. To my left, I can see twenty houses from the back patio, five of them with backyard playgrounds. To my right are eighteen houses and four backyard playgrounds. That’s nine backyard playgrounds, the kind that cost hundreds of dollars to put up, tall wooden structures with swings and slides and little houses to climb in. Nine backyard playgrounds, empty, the swings used by ghosts born of the wind. Thirty-eight houses, not a single child outside playing.
The clock slips later into the day. Two children appear in a yard without a playground followed by a man in a green windbreaker. And then, a beautiful sight – a baseball being tossed through the air. The clouds that had become thick suddenly part, revealing a blue sky, weak with spring but brilliant nonetheless. I see the ball in the air then nothing, an errant throw to dad. The man in green disappears behind some thick shrubs of the same color and returns, taking a moment to demonstrate proper throwing. He holds the ball next to his ear and I know what he’s saying without hearing it. A toss, the ball disappears again, a pause, another little white sphere sails through the air. A perfect strike to dad.
I hear Homer kicking butt on the radio and feel warm sunshine on my skin and see kids playing baseball. There aren't too many things better than this.