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Les bons temps roulez.

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Amid the general sense of broad-ranging idiocy and social and economic ruination, it is probably wrong to talk about how good life is.

But in the past few days life has been exceptionally kind to me … so I take pen in hand (or whatever) to acknowledge it. When things go well it is good to be thankful, and perhaps also to get the feeling down on paper (or whatever) to buck you up later on when things go poorly.

So here goes:

I took Thursday and Friday off, and on Thursday my wife and I took a day trip to Cape Cod. We hung out on the beach and saw seals, and had a good lunch, and did some hiking, and the weather was exceptionally fine for all endeavours under heaven.



Fast-forward through a couple of uneventful days to Sunday, when I went to another new-to-me ballpark. I was surprised to learn that Nashua, New Hampshire, is only about 65 minutes from my house, so I went up to check out the city’s historic Holman Stadium.

Holman Stadium is best-remembered for hosting Brooklyn Dodgers farm teams in the Forties where Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe broke into professional baseball, and Walter Alston managed. The city had another four-year flirtation with affiliated minor-league ball in the ’80s, when California Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates farm teams did business there. Nowadays a team in a development league for college-age players operates there in the summer.

This is precisely the same setup I used to love in the Finger Lakes: old minor-league ballpark, young players who hustle, relatively small crowds (there couldn’t have been more than 200 people there), low-key charm, free parking. Also, a city that’s small enough for me to easily eyeball my way back to the main drag after I find out I can’t drive out the way I drove in.

Quirky events, too. Like the T-shirt toss, in which Nashua players took the field between innings to throw balled-up shirts into the grandstands. Protective netting encircles the field from first base to third, and one of the players managed to get his tossed shirt stuck tight in the top of the netting behind home plate. A few of them shook the net but nothing happened. Then the very final batter of the game, with one strike already on him, stung a foul ball back into the net that shook loose the T-shirt. The stadium, or all 200 people in it, burst out in cheers.

Oh, and cold beer. Better beer than I’m used to finding in such places. And more fabulous weather – the kind of summer afternoon that’s hot but not oppressive, and each breeze feels like a warm bath.

It was … call it what you will. A high, a groove, a pocket of bliss. A reminder of why I go to watch baseball. The only problem was it didn’t last longer — the Nashua Silver Knights and Norwich (CT) Sea Unicorns wrapped up a 3-1 Nashua win in just two hours and six minutes. I didn’t know people could still play nine innings that fast. The big leagues could learn something.

I don’t expect perfection every time but I plan to go back.





Between innings at one point, the Nashua players came out and did a loosely choreographed line dance. I would usually find something like that kinda dopey, but I have to say I enjoyed it.

And here we are on Monday, the Fourth of July. I ran my first 5K since last December. I have a general fondness for holiday 5Ks, and an on-and-off relationship with Fourth of July 5Ks going back at least to 2001.

Wasn’t sure how today’s race was going to go, given the long layoff since the last one and a general sense that I’ve been less than disciplined lately. The weather was once again beautiful, clear, and not humid.

I came in with my usual goal of running the race in half my age or less — we’ll say that’s about 24:30. I felt good but not phenomenal during the race, so I was surprised to cross the line in a time of roughly 23:05. I was further gobsmacked to get an email telling me my official time of 22:38.

The way it works, for the uninitiated, is that there’s usually a big backlog of runners at the starting line. If you start back in the pack, there’s a gap between the time the gun goes off and the time you reach the starting line and begin the race in earnest.

Chip timing systems are designed to eliminate that gap. They record the time when your chip crosses the starting line, and the time it crosses the finish line, so you get a time that doesn’t include your slow plod up to the starting line.

I would have guessed my gap today was about five seconds … not closer to 30.

But, I guess I’ll trust them in the end.



Finally, as most of you know, I have an annoying affectation — er, deeply established habit — of listening to Charles Ives every Fourth of July. Preferably on the turntable if I’m at home, or if not, on the phone if I’m away. (Nowadays I’m generally home.)

My son and a friend were in the basement when I got home from my race, but while I was showering and stretching, they cleared out. So I got close to an hour of my personal favorite Great American Composer in, while a fresh breeze blew through the open window above the computer.


Tomorrow I go back to work, at which point the quality of life will take a turn back toward the norm, and perhaps even below the norm.

No complaints about the past few days, though.

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