Misspent Youth

“Youth is wasted on the young.”

Derivation?

My Story

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The Green Monster

I played Little League baseball, and was picked out for a spot on the team when I made a running catch in right field and threw out a base runner at second base who made the mistake of thinking it was a definite hit.  With such a sure glove, I ended up a catcher through high school and college, but while the arm was good enough, the bat wasn’t there to go for the big time.

If you grew up on Cape Cod as I did, of course the Red Sox were the team one rooted for, even though in those days — in the late 50s and early 60s — they were a hapless bunch, with zero pitching.  The routine on the radio was predictable.  The Red Sox would go through their line up with pathetic strike outs and easy pop flies to the infield until you finally came around to either Ted Williams or possibly the third baseman Frank Malzone, and then there would be — finally! — a home run or possibly an extra base hit. Then the dismal cycle would begin all over again with the rest of the washed out lineup. But you were a diehard fan, and there was always next year.

I just turned 71 years old, and like most old timers, I have a bucket list.  Guess what?  I had never once been inside Fenway Park to watch the beloved and certainly endured (in those early years, at least ) Red Sox go at it.  So last night, I took in my first live game, could actually see the likes of the famed Green Monster up close and personal, and get a feel for the place with my own eyes, as it actual is, not as it is projected on a flat TV screen or related secondhand through the radio.

When I handed the old codger taking the tickets my ticket, I mention it was the first time for me at Fenway.  Without missing a beat, he replied with a heavy emphasis on the last word that was pure Bostonian, that is, more pawk than park: “Welcome to Fenway Pawk!”

The exact same game was there to be seen by virtually everyone in the stadium, yet, upon reflection, I realized that while that was true, it was also true that each person might well have seen the game quite differently.

The boys with their mitts at the ready watched the game in a kind of hero worship of Major League ball players they themselves could only hope to become.  For these beaming eyed boys, the panorama of the game was a kind of aspiration for a magical future where they would make the game-saving catch or hit the dramatic 9th-inning home run to win the game — and receive all the laurels.

For the old men in the stands, the panorama was bathed in the nostalgia of their long lost youth when the game was played seemingly forever in an endless sunny afternoon — an afternoon that nevertheless did pass them by, unannounced and unnoticed, never to be enjoyed again, a love labor’s lost.

Many in the stands who had not been themselves baseball players — perhaps girlfriends or buddies who played the other sport, whatever that might be — were there simply to cheer and relish the roller coaster emotional symphony played out before them  — the rising crescendo of the chorus from the crowd for a long fly ball that just might make it all the way out…or the collective groan for strike three and the third out with bases loaded, a la Casey at the Bat.

So, yes, there was just the one game for all to see last night, but I contend many games were actually seen.  I know the game I personally saw in my heart of hearts was very different.  That game stretched all the way back to my very first catch in right field and the instant glory it conferred.  But while there were variable games observed last night, there was one thing that was fixed, irrefutable, unmistakable, even immemorial like the Roman Colosseum — that would be Fenway Park itself, the stage upon which each generation of the very best ballplayers have their day in the sun.

Bean Town

My Story

A Twinkle in His Eye

Springtime.

A solitary old man sits on a bench,
His cane resting at his side,
His doleful eyes glance about the park,
But, restless, do not dwell for long.

Then he hears children playing with a beach ball,
And turns to see them standing in a circle.
The ball darts back and forth between them,
Kept from touching the ground – the challenge.
Their voices excited, laughing, shouting, urgent, gay –
Merriment of youth.

A tall girl hits the ball with a tight fist.
But it shoots straight up and gets snagged by branches —
The ball now suspended and out of reach.
Squeals of excitement and angst from the children
Proclaim their predicament.

A smile flickers across the old man’s face…
A twinkle in his eye.

All Poetry — Henry Barnard

My Story

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Joy

Kids dash for the summer pool.
Make a big splash the only rule.
Hootin’ and hollerin’ and swimmin’, stay cool.
Everyone not there – what a fool!

Wiggle and jiggle —
There’s fun in the sun.
Don’t forget to giggle
Until the day is done.

Everyone wearing goggles.
Back stroke, breast stroke, side stroke, crawl.
Peewees in a constant joggle,
Just having a ball.

Submerge, emerge, soak.
Back flip, handstand, float.
Dive in, belly flop, cannonball.
Who’s the biggest goofball?

As the day winds down,
The merriment a mere echo,
But your best bud still a funny clown
Like Marco and Polo.

All Poetry — Henry Barnard

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Nobska Light in Fog

Nobska flatten frame

When I was a boy, Nobska Light, the lighthouse in Woods Hole, Mass., was a special place for me.  The lighthouse sits high up on a promontory with a spectacular view overlooking Vineyard Sound and the always busy entrance to Woods Hole, bustling with boats.  To the north is Boston and the rest of New England and to the south are the Elizabeth Islands that stretch out toward a distant horizon, beyond which lies Long Island Sound and New York City and the world.

When I was a boy, that distant horizon to the south was full of intrigue for me.  I grew up a Cape Codder and so could lay claim to its heritage that voyaging off into the distance was in my blood — what with the Cape’s history of whaling around the Horn in far flung places.  But I make no such claim.  To my knowledge, no one in my family was ever handy with a harpoon, although we have all been sailors.  But I do lay claim to the thrill that distant horizon had for me as a boy.  What was beyond it, what marvels lay in wait for the brave soul who ventured thither, what wondrous experiences could be claimed if only one had the courage to go forth?  That was the hold it had on me.

Now, at 70 years old, I’ve been well beyond that oh-so-far horizon — to many places and even to many other countries, if not other continents, and the experiences have been many and varied and colorful, and I have appreciated them all.  But I do question whether the total stack and weight of all of them could ever measure up to the grand expectations of that wide-eyed boy looking out to a distant horizon and wondering what lay beyond?

Nobska Light

Elizabeth Islands

Manhattan, A Photographer’s Journey by Henry Barnard

Magic Places by Henry Barnard

 

Digital download of the JPEG file for this photograph.

If you buy this photograph, I will be sending you an email in a day or two with a link to its JPG file. You will then download the file into your computer in its Download or Picture folder or whichever folder you choose. You can use it on your PC as you will, just to look at now and then or as a screen saver after you configure your computer to use it as such. Up to you.

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Beauty Dallies Not

The colors of summer flowers,
Lush reds, brilliant yellows, subtle lavenders,
Reach their zenith early —
For just a moment —
And from those lofty heights
Begins their relentless decline.

As August rounds the bend
And gallops toward the finish line,
Petals droop and shrivel…and drop,
And once vibrant hues fade non-stop.

Yet even in this cruel effacement
Lingers there an echo of glory past,
As in the ravaged faces of the old
Remains there a hint of youth steadfast.

All Poetry — Henry Barnard

My Story

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Us

They estimate the known universe is 13.773 billion years old; our own solar system is 5 billion; while the Earth is 4.6 billion.   Compared to that “deep time,” mankind hasn’t been around long — not much more than a very tiny fraction of 1 second.

Look at the sky on a clear, pitch-black night, and you will see an untold number of stars in that sliver of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  Then multiple that small sliver so that it includes all the slivers and so all the myriad stars in our galaxy, but realize that as many stars as that may be — and it is a gigantic number — there are even more whole galaxies than that in the universe.

We are very much taken with ourselves, but, in the total scheme of things, mankind isn’t even so much as a triviality.  And we may not even get to that 1 second mark either, through extinction, either by our own foolishness or when our sun begins to expand and reduces the pinprick earth to a cinder.

Yet parents adore their children; young men still aspire to greatness; and old men share their wisdom earned from the rough and tumble of experience.

How Old Is the Universe?

How Old Is Our Solar System?

Mere Footprints

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

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