Monday, August 28, 2006

Two big heartbreaks, and yet only an infinitesimal set of mourners - Chicago for you this week. I say infinitesimal, because, for one, Cubs’ fans are rather chronically doomed to let everyday, rinky-dink losses affect them, and secondly, Bubba was primarily adored by children. Steve Gatto must be gleaming, no doubt; but my cavil is that when you’re a Sosa or an O’Malley, it’s a known fact that even a sneeze or an arm twist could cost your team dearly, so why blame it on an abject curse? If Billy Sianis hadn’t taken his goat to that fated game in 1945, or say, if he’d cleansed the poor creature before he set foot in Wrigley Field, would the Cubs have been World Champions? As an earnest baseball freak, I’m not diffident in the least to admit that I sometimes shift focus from the crux to such wacky thoughts that traverse my mind; or to forewarn others to scurry and seal their tickets in advance for an upcoming game just to claim freebies.

And then there’s Bubba --- the first grouper in history to have fought cancer, and now he’s gone, leaving everyone at the Shedd Aquarium cold with his exhausted warmth. I have been reading so much about Bubba that I’ve come to stanchly believe in the power of love and perseverance. Life is really precious, but often, we thoughtlessly squander it to only realize much later that we’ve already driven it to atrophy. Like Tim Hansel said, “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.” Albeit through his sufferance, Bubba inspired several cancer patients, mostly children, and that in itself is one whale of an achievement for a lifetime. I am hopeless when it comes to bewailing and seldom know what the right thing to say is, but if Leslie Beth were to write him an elegy, I hope she’d say, “Sweet Bubba, as you glide and fly, through the oceans of your new-found sky, remember to stop and say good-bye.”

Well, on that note, I’d like to remind you of someone else that’s gearing up to say good-bye. The sun - and it makes me cringe to see him leave. Nearly rescinds my endeavor in this verse:

When summertime dawns
honeyed skies bleed
on thirsting lives

Gardens bask in the briskness
bearing their blossoms out,
as if in gratitude

Seas beckon the crescent
in dimpled laughter,
swelling with pride

No hazy obscurities,
nor gray clouds,
shall quell the Sun’s splendor

Even when darkness descends
and angst abounds
His stars rouse and light the depths.

But the stars don’t keep us warm on bleak, fall nights, worse on Windy City-style hyperborean ones. Which probably explains why people are incessantly bustling to make hay while the sun shines, as it were. Yet, it seems merely as if they were getting their skates on to ready for the wintry months.

Now that I belong to the mothers-of-hyperactive-tiny-tots brigade, I’m aware of what members of the clan usually do in the summer. And I’ve done most of it --- I’ve taken my little one to gardens, pools, zoos, and theme parks --- but the most imperative activity that stands out, is registering for winter classes at the park district. “How can they possibly stay locked indoors, just moping desolately, while it flurries?” is the oft-repeated question. Even though I found that some of the classes are worth signing up for, like ballet or something equally sensational (mostly for older kids) I wouldn’t think of paying a cloying Park District coach a hefty price just to throw in a few toys for a bunch of toddlers, only to stand and witness hair-splitting spats among them with no power to arbitrate and try to restore sanity. Building snowmen can be a fun way to tag as ‘Play Time,’ too, so I’ve resigned myself to this simple thought for now.

The one thing that remains highly uninflected all year round though, is the satiation of retail therapy. When April’s last snow-showers are kissing us farewell, it’s usually the itsy-bitsy polka-dot bikini that beckons (unless you’re a beer-belly sporting bub). And when all that ice cream has settled comfortably in the hungry haunches, and the sun is humming his swansong, people fleck the Magnificent Mile, garnering their wool and gifts, and embellishing it just enough to shame the holiday lights. As for me, I’m simply mulling Halloween costume ideas over a frozen yoghurt. And it’s not just the Oberweis cows that are beaming.

The hazels are at work, muzzling up the greens,
Forth and Towne’s got the Fall look all ready.
Go, stop the summer wind ‘fore it careens,
or hold your breath, till the harvest’s steady.


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