Today dawned clear and bright and not too warm, with no sign of the promised rain and barely a trace of the overnight thunderstorm or the incredible lightning show that lit the nighttime storm clouds with its mad flickering energy. After days upon days of heat and humidity, the cool breeze was a welcome thing indeed, and we packed our bags and tennis rackets and headed off to the park. Not the park closest to us, but the one that is about a 15 minute walk away and has more mature trees for shade, a baseball diamond, and two tennis courts.
Tennis, we have discovered, is our kind of sport.
We don’t exactly play by the rules, we never keep score, and we’ve been known to have six or seven players on the court at once (as well as three or four balls in play simultaneously), but to us, it is the perfect game. I’m not sure if the young woman training with her tennis coach in the next court over was amused by our game or scandalized, but we were having fun and that’s just perfect in my book.
Today we had lots of company for our tennis games, with one neighbour and her home daycare for the first bit, and three friends from school and their mom for the second bit, and we wound up staying at the park until well after lunch, alternating between tennis games, frisbee, swinging on the swings, climbing all over the climbers, and flopping down on the blanket to listen to another chapter or two of Macdonald Hall: Wizzle War
by Gordon Korman.
The sun shone brightly, the clouds floated by like decorations in an otherwise blue sky, and the breeze kept us just cool enough to make it the most perfect of outdoor play days.
I love days like this, when we can live outdoors as much as we please and friends surround us with laughter and good company. It feels like the way we were meant to live, as humans, together in the outdoors, together in joy, together for a meal enjoyed on a blanket in the dappled shade of a maple tree, together in crazy loud and fast bursts of activity, and quiet, calm, reflective moments, too.
You don’t get that same sense of belonging to the world when you are confined within the four walls of your house, breathing air conditioned air and seeing no one but the members of your immediate family. I worry sometimes about how to teach the kids everything a human being should know about the natural world we were born into. I’m a city kid, and with health issues that limit my mobility by times, a fairly physically inactive city kid at that, and I worry that my kids will grow up spending too much time indoors in front of a computer screen or a television, especially in the depths of winter when it is too cold to go out for long and I can’t trust my legs on icy ground. They need to know the world and all its foibles, and how to best use their bodies to navigate the world around us and keep themselves healthy and active. As a mom, I feel responsible for ensuring they learn it at a gut deep level. If nothing else, we are always and will always be inhabitants of this Earth, and of our own bodies, and it behooves us to take care of them as if they are the most precious of our possessions, for they are, in fact, exactly that.
And so, we spend entire days at the park, tucked up under a tree and running in the field and digging our toes into the sand, and playing with friends for hours and hours. When we aren’t chasing tennis balls, that is, seven kids and six rackets and three balls on the court at once, and no one quite sure what the score is, though everyone equally sure that their side must be winning.
Because tennis, it turns out, is our kind of sport.