November 2nd, 2006

Daniel Boone in Reverse

I'm watching the Louisville-West Virginia game right now. It's pretty good so far, largely living up the hype. It's hard to believe that the much-maligned Big East Conference -- remember the stories last year about how it's automatic BCS slot was in danger -- has two teams ranked in the top five. The surprise for me, though, has been my excitement at the shots of the Louisville skyline. I really do have a crush on the place, however strange that sounds. In a way, though, what I like about it is what I liked about my childhood. The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area of Pennsylvania has a lot of similarity to the Ohio River Valley, despite its proximity to the Eastern Seaboard. Also, the talk of Saturday's Breeder's Cup at Churchill Downs makes me think of those days when I used to watch coverage of the Derby -- my parents never bet on horse races, but love to watch them -- then go outside and romp in the late afternoon light playing across the beautiful Kentucky Bluegrass that filled the acres of open space on our land. I loved that lawn. It's one of the things I miss most about the place. That first week of May, my birthday week, always seemed the perfect time of year there. The grass was at its finest then. Just last night I was explaining to someone that my favorite birthday was back in 1978, when the Derby, which was on my birthday proper that year, featured the first of three amazing races in which Affirmed barely beat Alydar. I can still smell my birthday dinner of Wiener Schnitzel, Risotto Milanese, and fresh peas from the garden, followed by a homemade cherry pie. The stream of consciousness is serpentine as the course of the Susquehanna.