The field has a pleasant slightly bouncy track and a nice new astroturf square within marked for soccer and American football. There’s a big cloth banner hung up on the south border fence, a thank you from the high school for community tax levies that got allocated for the new astroturf and for computers.
When I’ve walked on the track, various pick-up games sometimes take place on the field. There’s a mixed-gender group of frisbee soccer players who are quite good. There’s a summer soccer league, usually on Saturdays. The people using the field tend not to bother each other. We’ll wave and smile but not actually visit. Everyone is there for a purpose, whether it’s doing wind sprints, running the track, walking the track or using the field to practice soccer skills in the warmer months and football skills in the late summer and fall. When I come over and there is a serious event taking place, I know because I can’t find a parking spot. That’s when I turn around and go take my walk elsewhere.
Today I walked the track while a small group of men who had numerous dark brown soccer balls lined up for practicing kicks talked with each other and kicked an occasional goal. It sounded like they were talking about dating. I tried to tune out, because they were saying things to each other they might not have wanted a stranger to overhear. I turned my head away and concentrated on the scenery. The entire field complex is surrounded by a tall chain link fence. There are woods beyond, a stream that comes and goes and a couple of small ponds whose levels rise and fall depending on rainwater. The school itself is too far inland to be affected by tides, but there are salmon creeks and salmon inlets very near. I looked then at the south end fence. I noticed a brightly-colored soccer ball lying near the flagpole where both the U.S. flag and the school flag flap indefatigably, day and night in all seasons. I don’t know why the flags are doomed to stand sentinel for that field but they are. I give them a mental salute as I go by.
This afternoon on the second circuit of my mile, I noticed an additional soccer ball to the first one. It was maybe ten feet away from the other. I wondered how many kids must be at home crying for their lost soccer balls. I wondered why the balls were down at the south end of the field. Up at the north end, there’s some trash and detritus along the fence but no soccer balls.
On my third circuit, I wondered how many soccer balls I would see up there if I just looked harder. I noticed and counted five balls hiding coyly in the grass, then I stopped, looked back and saw yet another ball, which made a total of six. I scratched my head and headed down to the north end and up again to the south end for my last circumnavigation and checked the ball count again. Now there were five. Mind you, nobody, not the three or four young men nor the family at the other end, trying to get their one-year-old baby girl (now on her feet and loving it) to try to kick a soccer ball for mama and papa, were sending balls up to the south end. All the soccer balls the people had out for use were dark brown balls that almost but not quite looked like giant malted milk balls, the kind you used to get for a penny from a machine at the movie theater.
So maybe I’m crazy, but I think perhaps in that field there’s a soccer rebellion in the works. There’s been a boxer rebellion in history, so surely there could be a soccer one. Those balls at the south end are probably reconnoitering for some alien master. They may be lurking there whispering to the malted milk ball soccer balls to come join them in their cause. Maybe they are alien pods waiting to hatch just like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Maybe there’s a giant pterodactyl flying at night and laying outrageously creative eggs. I don’t know. But I do plan to keep my eye out for soccer balls the next time I walk that oval. I’ll let you know if there are more of them and whether maybe we should all load our shotguns and double lock our doors.