Sitting on a weathered bench on the high hill overlooking the rolling fields, I watch the sun dropping just over the trees. Often I have sat in this spot on this hill watching the boys’ practice. This short bench does not look like much, but it provides summer shade under the grand white oaks and a picturesque place for friends to gather. Moss and mildew-covered concrete braces support now charcoal-shaded wood planks also discolored by time. A crisp autumn breeze blows through the trees surrounding the fields, reminding me why I love the change in seasons. The trees now in silhouette almost block out what is left of the day.
Just above the tree line a large flock of black starlings black out the sky. My eyes follow their path across the sky as the hundreds of birds jockey for position. They remind me of a smaller group of birds circling over this field. Just over a month ago I watched her mother release fourteen white doves, one for every year of her life. I have lived in at least a dozen homes in over half as many states. But in this place where I watch my children play, where I sit and watch the sunset, where I feel the triumphs and tragedies of a community, in this place I feel at home.
I stepped away for a few quiet minutes of reflection. Behind me a group of fifteen to twenty boys are playing with a football. The deep sand of the volleyball pitch mutes the thundering herd of barefoot boys wrestling each other to the ground. The sand does not mute their screams and squeals; sometimes I make out the voices of my sons in the melee.
My bench sits high above the lower baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Without warning a loud buzz comes from the field. Bright lights atop four metal poles towering over the full-size field flicker as they warm-up. The first players arrive for an evening lacrosse game. Their voices carry but not their words as they suit up in bulky pads and gloves.
Three little girls with sweet voices, probably seven or eight years old, run up to collect acorns from the tree by my bench. Farther away, the coach of the boys’ fall baseball team belts out instructions. The evening breezes graciously take the sounds of all their games away. No one is talking to me. I listen to only the wind and the crickets. The peaceful silence is beautiful; the only clear voice is mine.