Over, Under, Around…

My children enjoyed a book when they were little that was all about a young bear climbing into a box. The entire story was all the ways the box was tipped and moved when the adult bears didn’t know he was inside.

Several years ago, a friend and I watched a canine version of this story.

This is a portion of the equipment set-up for agility trials.

The course between classes

Handlers jog/run alongside the dogs, directing and encouraging the animal. Many of the dogs, especially the herding breeds and retrievers, galloped over, under, around, and through the obstacles with a smile on their canine faces. I do believe several of them were asking at the end — can we do it again? Please? What fun!

The handlers, while many looked pleased with their animals, did not impress as wanting to turn around and run the course again.


Holiday Hike?

Walking, and hiking, are good for the body. Depending on the place and route, they can be good for the spirit also.

Fresh air. Sunshine. Pleasing visuals — trees, hills, and perhaps an animal or two.

Tramp, tramp, tramp — you leave a trail across the snow.

Old-fashioned snow shoes form the base for this wall/door decoration.

A hike among the trees gives the heroine of Starr Tree Farm more excitement than she imagined.

Starr Tree Farm


Summer Entertainment

The field is waiting. Have we had our last snow? Will the rain do as much damage as good? Will the creek flood the outfield?

In small town parks across the nation these and other questions are on the minds of the people responsible for the baseball field.

Mowers are checked, fresh fluids or perhaps a new spark plug or two installed. Rakes and bags and even home plate is taken out of storage and inspected.

The players are practicing on their own, contacting teammates, trying on their shoes. Neither the players nor the spectators expect fancy — you don’t need shiny or new to have an exciting game.

On the other hand…

The recently constructed dug-outs provide welcome shade when players are off the field.




Non-Texas Football

In some small towns a flat space is at a premium. So you need to make it work double – or triple – duty.

Friday night football — non-Texas style. It means it’s played late enough that you need to turn on the lights. Football practice, marching band practice, and gym class all share the same grass. Okay — when they put the fresh lines out on Friday, the others move to the side or inside.

The little concession stand/shed is parked on the sidelines during the season. And they’ve had an improvement since my days of being thankful for the wool band uniform. An actual outdoor scoreboard! First class!

And there is seating for the brave. The bleachers, like the concession stand, will be removed at the end of the season.

And you need to share in other ways. Look at the right side of the summer photo.


Precious as Gold

Small towns are not the only gems scattered across the upper Midwest.

Minnesota claims 10,000 of them on tourist information and auto license plates.

Wisconsin and Michigan are not far behind on the numbers.

The resort areas of these states are rich with “summer homes”. Some are simple. Others, often over the course of decades in the same family, have all the modern comforts. Most offer a quiet change of pace and a good view. Many families have added fishing and/or boat docks. Rules vary — some lakes are motor free. Others welcome fast boats and water skiers.

Nugget Lake –a park nestled in the hills of Northwestern Wisconsin, welcomes you to fish and picnic.



Summer Dreams

My adopted home is a baseball town. Some years that’s spelled


Sorry. Didn’t mean to shout. It’s one of those habits a person picks up after several years in a place.

Every town and city needs a little local, civic pride. And it’s not a bad thing to have it associated with a sports team. Pick a sport you’re fond of. Follow the team in the media. And if possible — attend a game in person.

Where else can you shout, jump, and yell in public without drawing the attention of the police? So much the better if the home team wins.

I knew these silent athletes existed. I’d walked past them more than once on my excursions to downtown St. Louis. I have no excuse for not taking their photo on prior occasions.


Not one. Not two. An entire team of Hall of Fame players welcome you to the game.


Ball! Ball! Strike!

Thump. Thump. Thump.

It’s a rather steady beat. Not musical. For a moment I’m puzzled. Then I remember — batting cages.

One of my common morning walks takes me along the edge of a recreational business. My mind always put the bowling alley at the top of the list. The mini-golf course contains American Southwest figures and a small waterfall visible from the sidewalk. Signs advertise sand volleyball leagues.

And the batting cages. ¬†Of course, this is St. Louis — home of the best baseball fans in the nation. (Most patient are Cubs fans — but that’s a different story.) And fans, especially the younger ones, like to imitate their heroes. Practice, practice, practice. And since you can’t always find a pitcher whey you need one — some mechanical genius invented the pitching machine. The cage around it soon followed.

This is a test.
This is a test.


Holiday Prep

Are you ready? Do you have a fresh red shirt? A new cap?

You’ve got until Monday to get ready for St. Louis’ unofficial holiday.

Confused? This is a movable celebration in early April. No — not Easter.

Home opening of Baseball!

It may be a religion to some. ¬†Prayers will be offered by many. For good weather. Home runs. Double plays. Winning score. But in general it’s a secular holiday.

It does not matter if you don’t have tickets. After all, Busch Stadium has an occupancy limit. And some employers insist you continue doing your day job. Never mind — tune the radio and catch the score at break time — or pull up coverage on the computer and let it run in the background for a quick check now and then.

Today Baseball Tomorrow Summer?
Today Baseball
Tomorrow Summer?


The Home Team

Be prepared. To sing. To cheer. To stand at a moment’s notice.

A prepared fan arrives early and has ticket in hand for the scanner and bag packed to pass the security check. Then it’s off to study the signs, find the proper section and seat. For thrifty fans this includes a bit of a walk, up ramps and past vendors selling programs, hats, and pennants. Hungry? Thirsty? The scent of popcorn, hot dogs, and beer tickle your senses as you walk past.

One color, one logo, predominates. Small groups and families walk together wearing uniforms of their own making – T-shirts in team colors and khaki shorts on this warm evening.

How far up? Is that why the ticket was half-price? I gaze at the steep steps, pull in a breath of determination, and climb.

Great view! The parking lot within view is busy. The stands are filling. A great night for baseball.

Play Ball!
Play Ball!

Thousands of happy fans later when the home team won.



Starting Local

The world is in a sports frenzy. Nations have selected their best and sent them to Brazil. The request is simple.

Play hard. Win. Bring home the World Cup.

Several in my neighborhood are planning for the future. They run. They kick. They make up a few of their own rules to accommodate their understanding and physical capabilities.

Some will go on to play on organized teams. The youth leagues are popular here. Many schools have programs. At least one of the local universities has a good history and reputation.

Run. Kick. Score. Over and over and over. In cool weather and on warm sunny days. Take a water break when it gets hot.

Getting ready for World Cup 2030 or 2034
Getting ready for World Cup 2030 or 2034