Sunday, March 13, 2011

What a Difference

What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday we were freezing at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale softball tourney. This week we were burning up. Sweaters came off, and the occasional person in shorts did not look out-of-place. Outside the stadium and beyond the fence on the green slope there, many were sitting comfortably on the grass to watch the game.

Last week I forgot to take a blanket, and although I knew it was warmer yesterday, I had not been outside when we left before noon for the 1 p.m. game against DePaul. So I stuck in a blanket just in case we stayed for the late afternoon game against University of Illinois at Chicago and it grew chilly. We didn’t stay for the second game even though they announced it would be in 30 minutes instead of at 4 p.m. Even if we had stayed and the game had been at 4 as scheduled, we would not have needed that blanket in the backseat of the car. But I would have been sunburned because yesterday I forgot the sunscreen and my sunglasses. I will surely get organized before the end of the softball season.

University of Georgia had four at-home softball games in a row starting with a pick-up game against Penn State on Thursday and then three days with a game against 21st-ranked Louisiana State University.

Four wins later, the Georgia Bulldogs are now heading to South Carolina for a double header on Wednesday. This weekend they will be in Tuscaloosa playing against #2 Alabama. Saturday night’s game at 7 CT will be broadcast on ESPN. Nevertheless, there are a lot of Illinois folk right now who are fighting the impulse to drive to Alabama for what should be some pretty spectacular softball. Alabama has a 24-1 record right now and Georgia has a 21-1 record.

Last summer when the Union County Historical Society entertained the Illinois Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association after its meeting in the nearby Catholic church, I talked to president Pat Brumleve asking about the possibility of donating my collection of childhood scrapbooks to the archives the museum is creating. The society newsletter is always asking for old documents, photographs, and paper ephemera. Pat said to bring them down. I figure getting rid of them now will save my children that problem later and perhaps save the scrapbooks from being burned. The museum has just reopened for the 2011 season and is staffed by volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5. I had stuck in the two boxes of scrapbooks just in case there was time to drive on down to Cobden between games yesterday.

I asked Gerald if he had time to drive down, and he agreed to go. A new Civil War display had opened, and I was interested in seeing it as well as getting the scrapbooks out of the garage before mice got into them. We were fortunate to have Judy and Will Travelstead as our tour guides yesterday since they are so knowledgeable about local history as well as knowing every inch of this Old DeBois building that they were instrumental in saving.

Without the Travelsteads’ and others’ volunteerism, that building might very well have been torn down by now and a community treasure never established. Rather than have bake sales or other such fund raisers, the museum operates a beautiful gift store on the newly refinished north side. People donate lovely old collectibles of all kinds and they are sold at inexpensive prices, but money comes in to help finance the building and its activities. I could not resist five hand-crafted Easter eggs, some sprays of wine-colored glass berries that just match our living room couch. And it is almost impossible for me to go by collections of second-hand books and leave empty handed, so I brought out two of those also.

On our way down to Cobden, Gerald had phoned our friends Bill and Mickey Tweedy to say we were coming to town and to consider getting together to go out to eat. Bill, an outstanding horticulturalist, was using the beautiful day to start garden work, but he said come on over after we did our museum visit. We always love driving the rural roads leading to their lovely retirement home atop one of the scenic hills on Bill’s boyhood fields. His brother Jim and wife Mary also live nearby on another part of their boyhood farm.

We became so comfortable visiting in the Tweedys’ living room enjoying their new recliner couches that Mickey suggested we just bring in something to eat rather than having to go out and then maybe find ourselves in a place too noisy to keep visiting. After some discussion of possibilities, we sent the two men to town to bring home a pizza.

Mickey also served us some bean salad she had in the fridge, and at the end of the meal asked if we liked canned peaches. I frequently buy cans of peaches, so I said yes. But her home-canned Cobden peaches from the peach capitol of our state were nothing like the ones I pour out of a tin can. They were cold and luscious. With a plate of miniature cheesecakes from their freezer sitting there in the middle of the table tempting us along with the peaches, we sat long at the table. We visited for hours without the annoyance of conscientious wait folk interrupting to ask us if everything was all right.

We came back to Woodsong much later than we had planned and woke up to many unfinished household tasks this morning. We also woke up refreshed by the memories of the good time the night before.

Yes, our pecking bird visited us both yesterday morning and this morning, Gerald said. Although I was up by 7:30 both days, I did not hear our avian friend because he or she had already quit pecking. I was impressed that this bird knew we were now on Daylight Savings Time and made the adjustment.

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