September 23rd, 2007

Fall Training

The weather today was incredible, as if the middle-of-the-night chill that marks the onset of fall at this time of year had been magically transposed to the middle of the afternoon. Skylar and I went over to Cross Middle School to play a little softball before dark, in our air conditioning-deprived 1996 VW Passat wagon, and didn't even feel our temperatures rise. While it still strikes me as odd to live in a place where the baseball diamond calls when summer has run its course, I'm not complaining.

Now if I can just get her to practice regularly, we may one day have a power hitter on our hands. She has a slugger's instincts, which could be enough to make up for her late start playing sports. This was the first time she'd had a bat in her hands since January -- a variety of personal and professional crises made the spring a blur of confusion -- and she immediately made contact. I'm also starting to see how the time she spends in martial arts will pay dividends in other athletic pursuits.

For one thing, she's now a lot less likely to refuse coaching simply for the sake of asserting her inner anarchist, recognizing that the help of others need not be rejected on principle. More subtly, I can also tell that the process of receiving weekly instruction in coordinated movements of the body has made it much easier for her to turn suggestion into implementation. When I told her to keep her weight on her back foot until she begins her swing, she was able to do so without my having to give a hands-on demonstration.

Skylar also demanded to pitch to me both underhand -- with softballs -- and overhand -- with tennis and whiffle balls -- showing much bravery in the process, since A) she has heard tales of the deep bruising a line drive off my bat can inflict; and B) I launched a shot over the fence and into the brush on the other side of the road. Since I was using her bat, I had the control necessary to pull everything I hit enough to keep her out of harm's way. But she doesn't yet have the baseball knowledge to understand what I'm doing, which makes her stalwart behavior truly impressive.

Oh, and we saw a Harris Hawk perch on the outfield fence. They're such beautiful birds and inspirational to those people who have a soft spot for syndicalism, since they're the only raptors that live in multi-generational social units. I can't wait to take advantage of the cooler weather to do some hiking with Skylar, which will be a nice complement to her other exertions.