Monday, November 21, 2011

What One Sees on the Soccer Field

My oldest soccer player just turned 24. A knee injury cut short his soccer glory in high school. He still loves the sport though. And misses it too. He stands on the edge of the field watching his younger brother and sisters play and I see him enhale the autumn field, toe a nearby soccer ball, while eyeing the players and refs with fond knowing.

Since he was five he's loved this sport and these fields. It's almost 20 years we've spent every fading summer and every tempting fall on soccer fields across Louisiana. Soccer fields on the edge of highways and thruways. Soccer fields on the edge of hay fields and department store parking lots. Soccer fields behind hotels and in the middle of no-wheres. Soccer fields have played a major part of my children's outdoor nature study.

And we've seen many things...

ant beds glittered with orange powder sugar from candy straws,
wasps nest hidden in bushes,
hidden hornets in ground,
wild flowers,
cattails in swamp,
stray dogs,
soccer balls in the face and downed players,
a rainbow holding the field together.


And we've experienced many things...

children getting bit by fireants,
children getting stung by wasps,
children getting chased by hive of hornets,
wilted bouquets on the dashboard,
exploding cattails in back seat of vehicle,
the heartfelt sorrow of leaving stray dogs behind,
soccer balls in the face and downed players,
blue autumn skies.

And we've been thankful for many things...

bug spray, ice-cold soda cans, non-allergic children,
broken cigarettes and moist tobacco inside grandpa's pocket,
vacuum cleaners,
friends who replace stray dogs,
doctors and ER personnel,
God's perfect providence.

After 20 years on the soccer field one is apt to think they've seen it all. Then one sees something that doesn't belong but shows up anyway.

Our finale last weekend was a mad cow...

That's my husband standing on the edge of the cow pasture soccer field in this picture my friend Michelle took. The cow came from nowhere and the home team said they had never seen her before during practice. She clearly felt she belonged there. We wondered if she had a calf nearby or perhaps was pregnant and emotional.

She leisurely grazed and ampled along the edge of the forest as the home team kept us trapped on their end of the field. Then, in a spurt of revenge, our team herded the home team over to our side of the field...towards the cow. That upset her...terribly.

Clearly feeling under attack, she ran at the players in an aggravated jog. The men redirected her and ran her off into the woods again.

By game's end, she reappeared on the other end of the field, lowered her head several times, and did not back down from waving caps, shirts, and towels. Instead, she lunged towards the field and the players, paused in the confusion, and trampled again. Older children circled the soccer field and rustled up their younger siblings.

No one got hurt and it was a peaceful ending. The worst thing that happened was we lost a fully charged game 3-1. I guess worse things could have happened. Right?

It was a bit of excitement in a 20 year adventure. I wish my oldest soccer player had been there to see it.

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