Father’s Day

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To the barn early. Hot, the air is stifling, like a carpet draped across the doorway as you open it. Bugs are out already. Horses – my other eight sons – glad to see me.

Quiet Sunday. I listen to How I Built This on NPR. Over the years, I’ve listened to the stories by the ones who made it – Clif Bar, WeWork, Five Guys, Starbucks…and dear Kate Spade. That one haunts, the handbag maven sounded so confident, so humble, so whole, so complete…sounds can be so wrong. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, hard to fathom, tough to place.

I read this or heard this somewhere, don’t ask those suffering to reach out, they can’t reach out, we need to reach out to them, call them, give them a hand, place a rock for them to cross their river. A call, a note, a word…something, anything.

Sunday, I listen to Seth Goldman’s story about Honest Tea. Fascinating and, admittedly, frustrating as I fill buckets of water, throw flakes of hay and maneuver unwieldy wheelbarrows. I utter several times, “Change it, Sean. Change it.” Ideas come and go, bounce around in my brain like a game of Asteroids. Where’s hyperspace when you need it?

Barn finished for the morning, well, barns are never finished, just segments are finished. Instant gratification, until the next segment, the next set of chores. Ideally, I’m a once-a-week barn man, that’s plenty.

Shower and regroup, a short nap as Miles finishes Redwall. Miles and Annie treat me to brunch at Field and Main, our favorite local restaurant. I take a nap in the afternoon as the World Cup plays in the background, Miles props up in the other corner of the couch, his feet resting across my ankles. I’m not sure who won or who lost or who tied.

We share the afternoon chores, more feed, more water, more flakes of hay and heaving wheelbarrows. Arduous.

Miles and I venture to Welbourne Stickball while Annie soaks one last foot and wraps one more leg. We slow behind a hay bailer on the winding dirt road, talking about the World Cup and listening to NPR in the background, the commentator talking about a man who was arrested for disorderly conduct. Miles asks, “Dad, what is disorderly conduct?” I explain it the best I can, within the context of the show, mentioning alcohol, disturbance, chaos. Miles listens, stays quiet for a few seconds and asks, “Oh, I thought it meant wearing the wrong clothes.” I laugh, “Yeah, that too, Miles. That too.” We park under a big tree, Miles hops out of the car and runs toward Dorsey Field. He pops out before I put down my chair and cooler. “Sean, you’re up.” I pick up a wooden stick and ground one up the middle, beat the throw and say hello to Miles’ fourth and fifth-grade science teacher. Another batter, another pitch and I’m rounding third after a long fly ball. I score a run. Miles high-fives me.

We play a few more innings, it’s a loose game, although there is one player with a book who writes down each play. I never know who’s winning and who’s losing between the Mokes and the Mets. I think my team wins, I think I’m playing for the Mokes tonight (one game a few years ago, I got traded from the Mokes to the Mets, back to the Mokes, then back to the Mets with each half inning…I never got to bat). We do a rah-rah…rah-rah-rah-rah….chant and walk off the field. Miles says, “We should do this more often.” We say it every time we play, which isn’t often enough. We enjoy a drink on the porch with Nat, Barry, Bush, a musician from New Orleans who wound up staying one year after the Cupcake. This is the only place in the world that this is happening. I like that.

Home, burgers on the grill, fresh lettuce from the garden, a cold Lagunitas and a long, slow hug from Miles, who makes my Father’s Day.

• Lilting finished fifth at Laurel Saturday. Not a bad effort for a mare, who was certainly ring rusty when it comes to flat racing. She’ll improve.