Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Living la Poco Vida Loca

I believe that every region has its season.  The season when it is showcased at its best.  At least that holds true for the places I've lived.  In Texas, and therefore I presume much of the south, it's springtime.  Spring is when the fields and all along the roadways are a riot of bluebonnets and other wild flowers, and the temperatures are mild enough to allow the inhabitants to sit out in their backyards at night and watch fireflies dance among the oaks.  Spring storms occasionally light up the sky, regaling those below with a dazzling light show and precious rain.  Alas, spring in Texas gives way to summer, but for a brief time, it is a lovely place to be.

For Montana I would have to say it is winter, although summer and fall are none too shabby.  But for many people who brave the cold to live there, they do it to be able to ski, snowboard or take part in the many other winter sports.  There is ice skating on open ponds, tobogganing down local hills, snowmobiling across frozen hills, and hunters delight in stalking big game through winter fields, just to list a few of the things Montanans brave the cold to do.  And there is nothing really like waking up to a fresh blanket of snow covering the Rockies in full view out your picture window.  Winter can be harsh and inconvenient, it is true.  It's a different lifestyle you have to adapt to:  calculating into your commute time the effort to snow blow your driveway, scrape off your car, pull on boots and heavy winter clothing.  But the reward of the majesty of the mountains cloaked in snow is more than worth it for the people who choose to call it home.


For the northeast, it has to be the fall.  The trees explode into vibrant colors and the air turns crisp and cool.  On Friday evenings I can hear the sounds of high school football as I walk the dogs; the sound of marching bands ushering in the weekends, which are crowded with outdoor events like 5k charity runs, arts and craft fairs in the various parks and sports:  lots and lots of sports.  The hardest part of the fall is trying to decide what events one has to sacrifice in order to tend to the errands and the house.  But sometimes cleaning just has to get set aside in favor of some of the offerings the city and surrounding area lay before us.  Sometimes we begrudgingly tend to the chores as quickly as we can so we turn our attention back to everything going on around us.  And for Marissa and me, that of course means a lot of those sporting events.  As everyone knows, Pittsburgh is a sports town, and for the first time in a long time, that also includes baseball at this late time of the year.  Hockey season will begin early in deference to the Winter Olympics, so excitement is growing to see the Penguins back on the ice with a healthy Sidney Crosby.  Only the Steelers seem to be trying to rain on the parade, already riddled with injuries in key positions, but the season is young yet, so there is hope they can right the ship before its too late.

We've got another few weeks before the leaves truly turn and the blazing colors regale us, but the temperatures have become temperate and the fall festivals are in full swing.  The symphony season is beginning, hockey training camp is open and preseason has begun.  The Pirates are in the midst of their final home stand and are legitimately preparing for the playoffs.  The Steelers, such as their year may be, have kicked off the season.  So, Marissa and I have to have that chores versus play debate often.  We've balanced it pretty well by working together.  She helps me with the house cleaning so I can tend to the yard and then there is time to play a bit.  Vaguely as we go about this autumn ritual I will find myself feeling guilty because we're enjoying this bounty as best we can without the father and husband.  I think of Greg in the blast furnace heat of September in Texas, taking care of his brother, away from Ripley, who even my neighbor noticed and commented he clearly loves so much, and wonder if I should be sitting 20 rows up from the blue line watching hockey practice without him.  But what good would it do any of us if I missed it?

Life is a hard game.  No one survives it without some injuries.  I've sat on the sideline for a lot of it due to the little challenges that life hands you:  migraines, money issues, the need to wash clothes and scrub toilets.  And then the bigger issues:  my career, caring for my daughters, and finally, wrestling with extreme grief.  At some point before you know it the season's over and you have to pack up your gear and go home.  So, I finally tell myself that while I still can get in the game, I've got to do it.  I can't waste these clear sunny mid-70's days or I'll regret it and, worse still, resent it.  So I have to set aside those feelings of worry and guilt.  And what I really hope is that Greg has his own magic moments in Texas as well.


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