Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn in America

The boys are partying at the "Tron Bon", a halloween bonfire that their Overton dorm hosts every year. Last year Josh dressed as a roman warrior with face paint, ala William Wallace. Tonight, he's dressed as an arab sheik tonight, but i don't know what Ezi is going as. I'm sure they are having a great time already, as they seemed keyed up for this event.

This afternoon both boys had football/soccer games. I first drove down to Deerfield to watch Ezi, Mo and Suraj play in their JV game, as it started a half hour before the varsity game and Deerfield is only 20 minutes south of NMH. I'd never been there before, although I'd passed the signs to "Historic Deerfield" a few times. I can say now that on a late autumn day like today the well-preserved town of Deerfield is one of the most exquisite I've ever seen in New England. It's an absolutely charming, undisturbed 17th/18th c. village under a canopy of magnificent street-lined trees.

Fortunately, even within my reverie, I got to the game just minutes before it startedm meandering down rural backroads, across great steel spans over the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers with one eye on the road and one eye simply absorbing the waning color palate covering the hillsides. There's a deep contentment in such a landscape, cool, distant, decadent with an array of yellow, rust, reds, burgundies, and the occasional bright damask, that soothes and comforts the mind, before the reality of winter.

Oh, yes, back to the story... Ezi was on the pitch, playing midfield, where he loves to direct the action of the game. Unfortunately, Deerfield quickly went up 2-0 due to some defensive lapses that hurt NMH early and long. Therefore, before the first half was over, Coach Derr sustituted Ezi back into the goal to make sure Deerfield didn't score again so NMH would have a chance to get back into the game. Then, on a stunning reversal of fortune, a minute before half-time, Ezi launched a massive goal kick down the pitch that bounced before the other goalie, giving Suraj and a teammate the chance to quickly handle the ball for a goal! Not too bad for Ezi as goalie to get an assist on an NMH goal!

But at half time, I had to drive back up to NMH as Josh's game started half an hour after Ezi's and it was Josh's last home game of the year. All the varsity seniors, including Josh, were starting as it was their last NMH home game. I missed the beginning, but NMH was up 1-0 and Josh was still on the pitch. In fact, five minutes after I got there Josh triumphantly grabbed a header, hitting it twice by himself to put the ball in the back of the net. NMH was up 2-0 at the half!

Josh was having his best game of the year, possibly his career. The whole team was playing (what many said) was their best football of the year. Josh even scored again in the second half with a surging, powerful header from a lovely cross by one of his teammates. At the end, NMH put Cushing Academy away with a convincing 5-0 win.

Alas, although Ezi's JV team (Ez & Mo have been named the captains for the rest of the year) looked ready to capitalize on Deerfield's weakness when I left after the first half, they just couldn't find the equalizer in the second half and lost 2-1. Ezi, I'm told had some solid saves in the second half, as well as 'great distribution', but when I was w/ him at dinner, Suraj was still trying to calm him down from the loss...

But, with the Tron Bon(fire) on the evening schedule, knowing Ezi's innate resilience, I don't think he was going to stay in a funk very long. In fact, he was back to his adorable self, getting his friends in the party mood over dinner.

I ate in the dining hall w/ a couple of Josh's teammates' parents talking about the team, the school and our kids. Colin's dad married a polynesian from New Zealand, so Colin's half mixed up, too, as well as the best footballer on the team (some day, New England...). The other boys' parents were gentle quakers from Vermont who are proudly on the Parents' Advisory Council for NMH. Sweet folks all around.

I'm beginning to feel the weariness of the constant travel, but there's so much joy in being w/ and near the boys that I only feel it when i'm away from them. After all, this is rare & precious time poised between two generations in my life.

In truth, I feel incredibly fortunate that at this stage of my life, in my mid-50s, I can be spend such time b/n the two. Although it is painful to watching one's dearly loved parents age, yet, concomitantly, I am able to see Josh & Ez, so strong, vital and alive in their late teens, playing their hearts out. As one generation begins to pass, another one (ours) is able to look forward and back, while this younger one is growing faster than my beloved bamboo, rising higher, becoming more ambitious and ever more radiant.

It's such a gift to be their parent, to have been such a part of their childhood and youth. I'm so happy to have come back up this w/end to see them play, again. Their joy and fulfillment is so rich, I feel even more the purity and sanctity of parenthood on this late autumn day amid the western Massachusetts forests and farms in every direction. There is a quiet calm of nature that seems to have descended on the land. a shimmering light as the sun wanes on the horizon and the softly rolling hills catch that light and reflect it, as if they were ponds of colored water dazzling the unprotected eyes.

I feel blessed by these hues as the days spread out the beauty of nature through late October and early November. The waning of the tenderness of the earth as it prepares for the long, dark months of winter. So I stand, prancing a bit in my sneakers as the late afternoon chill seeps up from the earth, watching our sons gain their manhood and maturity in such a boy's mere pleasure in racing, chasing a round, colored ball up and down a lush, green, trampled field amid the tumble of bodies, sweat and competition. They leap with joy and today they are victors at home in front of their friends, fans and parents. there is exhaustion and contentment for them.

They know not of the message that the natural world is reminding us behind and all around them. We know. We have been through these years before. I have just spent a week with my parents in their 80s. I can see what these autumns portend. But, there is happiness in seeing, as well, the innocence and frivolity of our children. these are perfect days for their games. As we may have offered to them, they, too, inspire us with this love of life, of play, of pushing themselves out beyond their limits before they come back to earth, one day, as parents themselves and see what we now see of nature's meaning.

The constant travel, alas, is a bit desultory, wearisome, but the joy of being in time & place w/ some of my most intimate family --parents & children -- as you can appreciate, is profound.

More than i know how to say...

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