Marks on the Cabin Door
Photo: T. Quick
Marks on the Cabin Door
Summer is winding down; there is that unmistakable chill in the evening air that signals the waiting fall and HH has just celebrated his seventh birthday. Time to take it in, and write it out, my way of absorbing events, the passage of time, processing the important and not so important events in my life and that of those I love.
I am not sure why the end of summer is the point in time I have always felt marked the end of one year and the start of another. Perhaps it’s a carry-over from school days or some vestige of my agrarian roots – the shorter days, the rush to bring in the crops before the frost, lardering in anticipation of the dark winter ahead. Nevertheless, it has always been so for me and in recent years, the celebration of HH’s birthday has only added to the significance of the season.
There is a series of marks, short black dashes, on the doorframe of his bedroom in the Catskill cabin we retreat to each summer, one for each year. We began standing him up against that doorframe when he was two and at the end of every summer, we marked his progress. That mark on the door is a short-hand note, a too-brief but nonetheless telling point, reminding us of summers gone by, of events, firsts, storms – personal and climatic – and how, with each passing year, HH is growing up.
I started this, I don’t know what to call it exactly - blog, diary, journal, at about the same time the first mark was scratched on that door. I am an older father, far older than most men with a seven-year-old son, and the habits of my life have not always been healthy ones. HH has finally arrived at a time in his life when his memory will be capable of storing events away for a lifetime. However, I have no doubt that much, if not most, of our time together will be lost to him. There is only so much a picture can communicate, and so I took up this habit in the hope that he might have something of me, the words behind the pictures of summers passed, and in the process, know the father he will, in all probability, largely forget.
We saw our first Yankee game this year. It was a sweltering July afternoon and the Yankees beat the Angels 10-6. It was my first time in the new Yankee stadium and HH’s first major league baseball game ever. Growing up in Germany, HH had heard a lot about the game of baseball but he had never seen a game. He has been wearing a Yankee cap since he was two and we sing, “Take me out to the Ballgame” but only as a marker to indicate that the aircraft he pilots from the top of his bunk bed has landed in New York. Until this summer, he had no idea what the song was really about. He did recognize the National Anthem and he hummed along with the crowd. When it was over, and everyone sat down, he turned to me and asked when the song for California was going to be played. Before this July afternoon, his experience of sporting events was limited to World Cup Soccer matches where each team’s National Song is played before the match. I explained to him that California and New York were part of the same country, one song, one nation, indivisible, etc …
We had the good fortune of attending the game with my friend Herb. Herb and I worked together for a number of years in the TV business and he is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the subject of baseball. Herb and I often found ourselves in foreign territory (our common National Anthem notwithstanding) during the World Series. One night during the Boston-New York series, he told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was not to call the police or the front desk or attempt to break down the door, should I hear strange, loud noises or banging on the walls from his room. Herb is a participatory baseball game watcher and the World Series (particularly the heated Boston-New York rivalry) often called for extreme participation.
We ate our way through the New York- California game, popcorn, hot dogs, lemonade and beer, but alas no crackerjacks – and HH was thrilled. The new Yankee stadium is quite an impressive place; huge, loud and commercialized beyond belief. That said; the game was terrific with home runs and great plays and Herb there to give HH and me stats on all the players as well as a measure of historical background on the game. That afternoon, we took the subway back to Brighton Beach where we spent the night with friends. It was our only day in the City this summer but it was a full one. We returned to the mountains the next morning and spent the rest of our summer there.
Part 2 to follow …