Competitive by Nature (Part 1 of 3)

The grass had been mowed just yesterday. The smell was fresh and exciting. The field at Brown’s Corner Recreation Area was alive with the warm-ups of 30 twelve year-olds getting ready for the game. The Falcons were hot this year. They had the best pitcher in the league. A left-hander named McDery who threw a natural inside curve. The Dodgers were on a three-game winning streak Just last Saturday, they had creamed the Giants 8-1. Their big first baseman was a power-hitter they called Train. His real name was Terry, but his nickname stuck after the first game of the season when he shattered the catcher’s collarbone while stealing home. He’d run him over like a steam engine and didn’t even look back when the stretcher came. Train had stretched many easy singles into doubles and triples through the way he chugged around the bases. He put his head down and charged full-throttle until he got there. Not many kids stayed in the way once he got going.

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Salt: A World History

“Hey, Pepper! Where’s the salt?”

I’ve heard that question most of my life. Usually from people attempting to be clever about my last name. It got old in the second grade. One day in my early adult years, I came across the book Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky and now have my answer for any who ask.

It’s a follow up to his book, Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.

I suppose they needed a lot of salt to preserve all that cod.

It Wasn’t Me

Mom put the full pan of chocolate chip brownies on the pantry shelf to cool. Those would be a special treat for the family after dinner tonight. The appetites of four teenage boys seemed bottomless and something like fresh brownies never lasted long. Mom paused for a moment and cut just one little square from the corner of the pan. “Just a little taste,” she thought, and closed the door. Continue reading

Pond Monster

The fish weren’t biting half as much as the mosquitoes as I sat on the dusty west bank of the pond. The saw grass rasped each time I shifted my seat. I stared at the muddy brown water and wished for a bite, a nibble, something to break the boredom. Nothing. I reeled in my line once again to check the bait and saw the washed-out remains of a drowned night crawler that had been my latest hope of fishing success. I peeled it off the rusty hook and tossed it in the water, making note of where it landed.

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Got to get out of here…

Travel, adventure, gold. That’s what he wanted. Jason dreamed of horseback riding on a rugged mountain trail in search of a long-forgotten mine. Or maybe scuba diving in shark-infested waters to discover an ancient shipload of gold. Perhaps skydiving into a hostile jungle to locate a hidden temple full of jeweled treasure. But not today. Here he was pulling weeds from the garden as sweat trickled into his eyes.

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Hayride Gone Wrong

Celeste giggled as she chewed a piece of grass taken from the hay bale she sat on. The hay wagon bounced its way down the road pulled by the powerful green Oliver 1650 tractor. We loved bringing in a load of hay. It was the best reward to follow the hard work of throwing the heavy bales on the wagon, the careful stacking to fit a full load and not lose any on the way home. The ride on top of the load was our favorite part of the job. It was a ride no carnival or parade could match. The summer sun tanned your back while a cooling breeze in your face wiped the sweat away. The view of the countryside from thirty feet up on a moving stack of bundled grass made the work seem worthwhile. Continue reading