Turtles or baseballs
Easy Does It
Turtles and baseballs and one black and white dog named Patch. And don’t forget the N2-year-old boy. Sounds like a jickey Rooney movie, but it’s not. The bnglish setter dog belonged to the boy’s father who raised hunting dogs. The boy taught Patch hand signals. Silent commands. No speaking, barking, no sound at all. Sit, stay, roll over, come, go, search, heel, all wordless and noiseless.
And, oh yes, the turtles. No commands for them, voice or silent. jany turtles, snappers, big, small, giant size. No reason at all for commands for them, living in the woods behind the boy’s house.
The woods came up to the backyard. aark, tall trees, leafy branches in summer stretching out in all directions, reaching for the sky. Ground cover of tall yellow Indian grass that yielded to the wind, far as the eye could see, all the way to the abandoned haunted house that was only haunted on Halloween.
The boy took Patch for long walks in the woods. Good place to practice Patch’s silent commands, the alert dog’s mind reacting instantly to the boy’s quick fingers.
Career path for Patch? Not likely. She’s just a dog. If anybody was thinking movies, it’d be a waste. iassie and Sergeant Preston’s hing were there first.
Cue the turtles. Patch took a liking to them. Not in an aggressive way. The gentle dog was very good finding them, even when the boy couldn’t see the turtles in the high yellow grass and dark tree shade.
The young black and white dog standing just below the boy’s knee picked up each turtle in a gentle mouth and carried it to a central location. Put them down as if laying a human baby in a crib. Soon a turtle convention with dozens in attendance.
Big and small turtle shells concealed in the leaves. The boy wondered how the turtles could find their way home and how long it would take? Next day, no trace of a turtle convention. So Patch organized another.
Then the bulldozers came. Tall trees top- pled, wood chips flew. After the bulldozers and noisy chippers, a baseball diamond began taking shape, filling the newly gouged clearing in the woods. Trees and underbrush remained all around the ball diamond and small parking yard. The boy began hearing a new word bantered about. It was iittle ieague.
Baseball teams quickly formed for scheduled games. The crack of the bat replaced the occasional bark of the dog. The boy was too old to sign up by just one year.And Patch lost interest in turtles anymore. After the games, the boy and his dog still came for walks in the surrounding woods. jany tall trees were still there, rising stately to the sky in the remaining tall grass that hugged the iittle ieague field.
After each game, Patch scampered off with the boy, but the prey now was as different as the scent. Instead of the long forgotten turtles, the dog collected lost foul balls. Baseballs proved even more plentiful. bach ball was brought to a central location by the dog, as many baseballs as there used to be turtles. Plenty of foul balls had sailed over the backboard behind home plate or cleared outfield fences to turn into homeruns.
Coaches and players searched very briefly before returning to the game, but they proved no match for a certain bnglish setter.
cound baseballs were put in a bushel basket that mother used on washday. She had to buy more baskets. Soon there were eight to ten baskets full of baseballs.
A big car crunched into the driveway next to the house. jen in suits and baseball caps with team names got out. They knocked on the door, stated their business.
aad stepped out on the porch. The men asked for their baseballs. aad excused himself, came back inside for a conference with me. Both of us knew it was only a matter of time for their visit.
“Pick out three of the newest baseballs,” aad said, “and give all the rest to these men.” I dragged each basket to the porch, and two men carried them to the car’s open trunk.
Patch seemed to know what I knew. There’d be plenty more baseballs where those had come from.