Chapter Twenty-Five: Part One
Joan Sledge: One Spring Day
Spring had arrived early and, along with it, hopes that our home team, the Milwaukee Braves, would take the World Series again. Last year was the first time they had won the pennant since moving from Boston in 1953.
A cornucopia of scent wafted through the open window. Riding its gentle warm breeze like sweetness from heaven were spicy dianthus, the heavy scent of gardenia, nicotiana, lily-of-the-valley and lilac. My mom had taught me well and as she had promised, identifying those blossoms and more had become as easy as printing and writing my name.
This was my senior year and I felt especially grown up. Graduation was two months off. Though next year meant traveling to another school to complete grade eight, it was not without some degree of trepidation. Still, for the most part, I eagerly looked forward to it.
Chin saddled against the heel of my hand, I was locked in a daydream. Baseball tryouts were still a month away and the newly formed Duffield Baseball League portended tougher competition. So, when the snow had melted and the ground barely dry, I eagerly began to practice with my Indian rubber ball. I was always amazed by its speed as it coursed its way through the uncut grass. Agility in catching and accuracy in throwing were paramount as the ball bounced off the narrow section of wall beside the dining-room picture window. The ball took a nasty hop the other day left me with a shiner. Boy, did I get a ribbing from my friends when they found out how I got it. “You sure ain’t any Johnny Logan,” they teased.
Mister Roberts was one heck of a great teacher but somehow today his voice was surreal and did not resonate with me. Dipping the nib of my pen into the ink well, I neatly scratched his notes into my notebook from the chalkboard. I casually glanced around. My peers’ expressions said it all. I was not alone in my mental truancy.
Mister Roberts stopped teaching. Bracing himself against the front edge of his desk, he faced us with his usual toothy smile. “No sense me trying to teach you science when you’re not thinking about it. Huh? So, let’s stir things up.” He glanced out the window. “What a beautiful day. Real learning begins out there.”
My attention suddenly piqued. The collective mental slothfulness of the class began to evaporate like falling dominoes.
He picked up a book from his desk and began to read: