Field of Dreams

December 1, 2008
By Chelsea Lenhart, Phoenix, AZ

I stood leaning against the metal chain link fence that separated me from the field. My body was shuddering and my feet were frozen blocks that served no purpose. If I tried to move I knew my toes would not break their ice prison to let me do so. My arms were mimicking those of my teammates; wrapped tightly around my body, hoping for some warmth. It was no use, everyone’s teeth were chattering, even mine. Still, our brains were buzzing and the surrounding air was heavy with excitement. We all looked out past the metal barrier that lay in front of our eyes-making the field and the dugout feel like different worlds-the distance between galaxies. In little time, we would be out there, and the anticipation was nearly choking each and every one of us.

To the right my eyes were pulled to the fresh cut grass. It was a bright green under drops of silver. The morning dew painted each blade perfectly and the rising sun created a sparkle that was entrancing. Splotches of dark green where our feet had trod just minutes before beckoned my eyes. They demanded my attention because each spot knew that it was greater than its silver colored neighbors. The darkest patches were given the honor of having cleat after cleat stomp upon them. And yet, even the darkest hue of green was not my central focus. What I gawked at most were the blades of grass that grew ever so closely to the dirt of the field. These magnificent blades were warriors. Near the dirt line there was no significant source of water. The threat of being crushed, being pulled from the soft dirt, by the dirt churners at every game’s end was enormous. These little blades, rare as they may be, conquered their surroundings and my wandering eye. Standing high over all their peers, they shone like a gold nugget in a cart of charcoal.

As cleanly cut as the grass may be, the dominance of the dirt field was no comparison. No one is allowed to ruin the tedious work of the men who prepare our spot of play. Before the game begins each player gets to cast their eyes upon one of Earth’s many wonders: perfectly circled, traced, rich red layers of dirt. In time the spectacle will be diminished with cleat marks and ball paths. For now, it is a sight of glory, no bases are yet placed. No discrepancies in the circular pattern. Nothing but brick red dirt. If I focus hard enough I can pick out every individual grain, I can strain to see every mark where the water landed-to soften the ground, to moisten it, all in preparation for the days’ activities.

Every image had an accompanying scent. Something to remind us of the game even when we are miles away. That morning an extreme calmness wafted near my nose. Water droplets made the surroundings smell of fresh linen, just coming out of the washer. Clean, crisp, and cool. With one long breath in, a spoiled stench sank into our bodies. It was unavoidable, even though this actual odor was not yet present. As each of us stood, our imaginations got the best of us and the sharp stink of future sweat attacked us immediately. Behind that top coating lay the meaning of the sweat’s smell. What truly was being taken in was all the determination and desire to win, all the numerous hours of training and conditioning, all the cuts and bruises. Lying deep within each salt spurting pore was the passion for the game and the courage to be victorious.

As the game grew closer to it’s beginning, the field slowly became more and more alive. From the red dirt low lying sprinklers poked up their little black heads. Chk-chk-chk-chk they went simultaneously, creating one loud pitter-patter of six-foot high rain. Greedily the ground sucked in the shower, thirstily it drank, gulp after gulp, until it could drink no more, leaving shallow puddles on the red gravel flooring. Past the field of now drying green grass the blinding yellow sun burst over the treetops, bringing with it shadows of light. A soft wind, just cold enough to cause us all to shiver even more, swept past, and startled the trees awake as it went. Tree after tree stretched its long limbs out towards its friends, causing a restless rustle of leaves. In the distance, present as only a light undertone, voices could be heard. Voices of exhilaration and frustration, just out of reach. All of us looked about at one another. We could hear it more clearly now, the anticipation made it all seem so real. In front of our eyes we could imagine the entire game being played out. In his burly voice he pointed and declared, “OUT!” just as quickly as he flew an invisible plane whilst crying, “SAFE!” Each unwelcoming metal bleacher was filled with a parent, friend, fan; and each of these had their own opinions on every call. The “boos” and the “rahs” were overwhelming. Every voice meshed together to create a beautiful booming babble of noise. And with every whoop of accord and groan of disparity we grew a little more unsteady. Our only wish: for the game to finally start and to let our wandering minds rest.

Alas, the opposing team is as prepared as us, and the umpires clad in their baby blue uniforms strut onto the field. They walked with an air of the utmost authority onto our sacred field of play. A unanimous taste of disgust filled the space between each caged dugout. Our suppressed emotions towards the officers of the game boiled deep within our bellies but the nervous anticipation calmed our angry thoughts. Soon the game would initiate like a big machine, each separate player working her own station, doing her own job. The giant machine tugs along and works together to get the job done. As fast as it turned on, it would die to a sudden halt, all that will remain will be the sweet taste of success, the nauseating nastiness of failure, the tiredness of hard work, and the final dying cheer of a game well played.

The author's comments:
Softball is my sport of choice. My passion, my outlit. Any softball player that I know agrees when I say that true dedication shows through during early morning games, in the freezing cold weather brought about my winter's fury. I love those moments, when the bite of cold attacks every limb of your body, yet you still stay standing because you know that in a few minutes the game will begin.

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