Susan Ivory gets a snapshot of life when she walks the perimeter of her daughter’s soccer field.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, one of the first signs of fall is the start of soccer season. A few weeks before school even starts, coaches are rallying up kids and working them through drills, various strategies and joyful scrimmages. Our daughter Mimi had chosen to switch teams this year to be with some of her friends. The only hitch was that the new team was on the other side of town. Of course this meant that the practices and games were a little further away than we were used to as well. With no one nearby to carpool with, I got to do all the driving. – or rather be the passenger while my daughter and her learner’s permit took the wheel. Instead of just dropping Mimi off, I chose to wait for my girl and bring a book to keep me company as I waited in the car as so many other parents do.
“Liam, tie your shoes again!”
I hadn’t counted on the glorious day to distract me from the newest Bestseller. It was a truly dazzling day and I found that I was ignoring my much coveted reading time in favor of gazing out the open window. I realized I would be foolish to waste this day and decided to go on a short walk. Short, of course, is relative. This particular field is actually a collection of sixteen soccer fields and was given the ominous name of “60 Acres.” I took a deep breath and started on what was surely to be a twelve thousand mile jaunt.
“OK girls, you need to focus. How badly do you want to win the trophy anyways?”
There was so much going on in every corner of the fields. Both girls and boys from the tiny ones just learning to play, to seasoned high school kids were out practicing. Nearly every person on the field was talking or yelling at the top of their lungs. I couldn’t help but grin as I found myself momentarily surrounded by a group of boys jogging by. One of them was earnestly asking the others if they all used a lot of conditioner in their hair. I started paying attention to the snippets that I heard as I passed by.
“All right Abby! That’s the way to dribble!”
As I looked around, I noted that the trees were starting their yearly metamorphosis. I admired the few scarlet leaves already littering the grass. Most of leaves were still lush and green, but I could already see the subtle change of color around the edges of them. I knew that all too soon, the ground will be covered with crunchy leaves in vibrant hues.
“Mike, pay attention! Mikey, step it up! Mike step up! MIKE! STEP UP! Oh Mike…”
A young couple ambles by pushing a baby stroller before them as they spoke softly in French with their heads close together. A mother gently tosses a softball to her young son while he valiantly struggles to catch it in what looks like a brand new mitt. Yet another young woman cuddles with her child on a blanket in the grass as they read a book together.
“Bruce, what time is it now?”
I drew a deep breath and relished in the heavenly scent of freshly mown grass. Then abruptly coughed as the air became tainted by the sharply astringent stench of the Honey Bucket air sanitizer. I picked up my pace to get away from the well used Honey Buckets while smiling at the ironic name given to a portable toilet.
“Ok guys, take a quick water break. Everyone be sure to drink some, I want to keep you hydrated”
I pass a few other lone women and one man walking by in the other direction. They were very focused on their Power Walking and barely made eye contact with me. I could only hope that they were able to notice what a beautiful day it was. I have no idea if there were other people walking counter clockwise as I am…we are all spaced far apart. It is a huge field.
“Don’t touch it, don’t touch it! More zig zag ladies…that’s it, that’s IT!”
Mimi glances up, sees me, then ignores me as I pass the place where her team is practicing. I smile bitter-sweetly as I remember that once upon a time she would have abandoned her team mates and come running to greet me. I chose to respect her teenage mind-set and pretend that I don’t know her either.
“I got her this gorgeous pink plaid that was pleated perfectly. I just know she’s going to love it!”
I finish walking the entire perimeter of sixteen soccer fields, hoping that I beat Mimi back to the car. I was pretty shocked to find that only fifteen minutes had passed. It seemed as though I had no choice but to walk around again. (Honestly, how could I resist?)
“Check out that hot guy over there. No, don’t look now, he’ll see you!”
I pass a group of moms sitting in a circle in their soccer chairs absorbed only with each other. They are talking about their dinner plans. Not too far away from them a woman sits alone in her chair watching them. She smiles at me as I pass by. On my second pass I see that the woman has been joined by another and they are happily talking about their sons in Spanish. It lightened my heart to see that she has a companion now.
“Did you hear that he had a heart attack?”
As I finish up my second lap, I started noticing how many parents were sitting in their cars waiting for their offspring. I was so glad that I had chosen to get out and walk around the soccer fields. I had no idea how much I had been missing out on.
“Mom! Are you ready to go yet? I’ve been waiting for you!”
“Playing Soccer” Courtesy of Susan Ivory
“Maple” Flickr Creative Commons. All rights reserved by Gary-imasu
“Soccer turf tilt shift” All rights reserved by mummbles