i believe in magic. or, as the late great nick drake sang so hauntingly, "i was made to love magic."
but not that sleight-of-hand variety, practiced by charlatans and shysters. i mean, i enjoy a good trick as much as the next person, but i don't love magic tricks. that's not magic. those are illusions. tricks and illusions are just that: things that, by definition are the opposite of real. they distort and obstruct reality in order to make it seem like something else is real. but nothing has really changed. it is merely a trick.
but i was made to love magic. real magic. where reality really does shift and change in ways that are sacramental in the purest sense of the word: mysterious.
let me explain.
yesterday it snowed. again. on the second-to-last day of march it snowed like the proverbial lion of march decided to eat the lamb and tear it to bits, with pieces of white wool flying around everywhere. it snowed and snowed, cold wetness falling from the sky in a soul-crushing kind of descent. this has been the winter of intolerable length. or, to quote the wonderful linford detweiler,
"it snows in here, it snows forever;
there's no christmas underneath this weather."
(speaking of Christmas...isn't Christmas magical? the great joy of giving; the discovery that real contentment lies not in what you open and take and receive, but in what you offer and give and share. there is the wide-eyed wonder of childhood, and the reckless act of putting a green tree inside our homes, as if we really believed that there is birth beyond the darkness, a kind of green that never dries and cracks and fades away.....it is all so magical!)
and, as if to top off this bitter, brutal season with a mocking finale, mother nature let it snow furiously yesterday. mother nature was shouting at us, and i quote, "SPRING WILL COME WHEN I SAY IT WILL COME, AND NOT A MOMENT SOONER. IF I WANT IT TO KEEP SNOWING, IT WILL KEEP SNOWING!" she would have gone on yelling, i'm quite sure, but then the magic happened, and she became silent.
out west towards the majestic pacific, where winter's grasp has already slipped, grown men donned costumes called "uniforms" and ran around in circles and tried to use a wooden stick to hit a leather ball. they put on gloves and stirrups and hats. they chewed gum. they ran and swung and slid and clapped and cheered and jumped and they played baseball. they are not charlatans or shysters. they are simply players of a game, who keep playing generation after generation on the same green confines of a diamond which, every year, silences the last desperate attempts of winter to linger.
baseball changes the season.
it is like magic.
so, keep snowing, if you must, mother nature. dump whatever you've got on us. keep pulling your icy breath down on us from the north. but be warned: something has shifted. it is no trick or illusion. baseball is here, and will carry us through long summer nights with crickets and cotton candy, and long into autumn, with spices and apples. the fireflies will come and go. kids will get out school, and then head back to school. and baseball will still work its wonderful magic, fending you off, holding you at bay, playing out every inning on its evergreen surface.
yes, i was made to love this magic. from opening day to game seven. from the first pitch to the final out. from the lineup to the rundown. from chin music to toeing the rubber. from aaron to zeile. from now until fall finally gives way to winter again: baseball is here.