Longing for Baseball in the Deep Mid-Winter Hush

Elizabeth ScaliaAs I write this I am looking at a most beautiful view. Through four long casement windows fixed with opened blinds, I am watching fat snowflakes descend straight down with a pretty, almost stage-effected uniformity. The branches of the decorative pear tree are long and low and covered with white. They convey a sense of solitude, but not loneliness; the vertical branches look like prayerful arms raised up in supplication. Everything is brown and white, with just a touch of green peeking through at the hedges, and it all reminds me of a Japanese print—almond trees in snow, bamboo in winter; there is that sense of peace, isolation, perfection. This is a snow that invites you to wrap a blanket about yourself and sit by the window with a good book and a cup of hot, sweet tea.

It is unspeakably gorgeous, and it makes me feel grateful to be alive; to have working senses that can see the beauty, smell the crisp air, feel the softness of my wrap, hear the silence, and taste the tea. The heavens are telling the glory of God, and all creation is hushed with a shivery joy.

I love the quiet the snow brings. In the cities, four inches of snow can effectively sound-proof the hoof-and-horn bustle, at least until the plows come. In the suburbs it is more than sound-proofing. It is as though God has put his finger to the lips of a quivering world and whispered, "ssshhhhhhhh . . . "

I love it. I could never live in a place without winter, even if it is a short season.

So, in the midst of all of this peacefulness, all this wonder, it seems strange that my heart is filled with a longing for something else: I am desperate to watch baseball.

Even as I extol and enjoy this silence, I am already ants-in-the-pants to hear the crack of a bat, the whiff of a ball into a glove. In counterpoint to this clean, cold air, I want to smell salty hotdogs and warm beer. I want to feel the sun on my face as a crowd alternately calls out derision or roars its approval. I want to hear the snap of banners blowing in the breeze, and an umpire calling out the count. I want to watch Derek Jeter round third and blow a gum bubble as he pours it on toward home. I want to watch a little kid with a big helmet and a bigger glove eat peanuts and throw the shells on the ground in perfect, allowed-to-be-messy contentment. I want to stand up in the 7th inning and " root, root, root for the hoooome team," and then duck when a foul ball flies into the stands 100 feet away from where I am sitting. I want to participate in a wave. I want to hold up my hand-painted signs with my family and babble at the camera like happy baboons when it spots us.

I want winter, finally, to end. Wandering about in my heavy wool socks, I need it to be time for sandals and ice tea; time to walk into any place of business and hear a game being broadcast—it doesn't matter what team, on the radio every game sounds the same: talk, count, crack, whiff, cheer.

It's baseball! I hear the game and my stomach settles down and something like joy spreads deep. It's baseball, the longest season of the year; the season that lasts and lasts and always leaves me feeling, when it's finally over, as though it is gone too soon.

The snow is gorgeous. It is pristine and white and comforting and in our backyard there is nothing to spoil it or sludge it up.

But ohhhh . . . how I am ready to see the boys of summer, and to see some blue pinstripes on a background of white, with a big smear of dust all over the front—or the backside—which can only come from someone playing the game all-out.

The snow is lovely; it's lovely!

But let's play ball!

2/15/2011 5:00:00 AM
  • Catholic
  • Baseball
  • Seasons
  • Sports
  • Summer
  • Winter
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Elizabeth Scalia
    About Elizabeth Scalia
    Elizabeth Scalia is a weekly columnist at First Things.