I wrote the early chapters of my autobiography behind a four horsepower Briggs and Stratton lawnmower. Growing up on three acres in Pennsylvania farm country, the only responsibility my father entrusted to me with was keeping the grass under control. Walk 150 yards east, shift 18" south, and walk 150 yards west. And try not to cut your damn toes off. It offered me ample opportunity to envision a life more grand than my immediate circumstances might indicate.
Say...playing right field for my beloved, benighted Philadelphia Phillies.
“Hank Aaron connects. It's going deep. Souders races back...he's to the warning track...he leaps and...it’s amazing,,,he steals a home run away from the champ. Only 13 but that boy can really play some ball....
Riding the Tour de France.
"The peloton approaches the Champs Elysee. Souders breaks away. He's sprinting hard. It's unbelievable, but a kid in cut-off jeans and tube socks is the first American to ever win..."
Seducing my 7th grade mathematics teacher.
"Paul, what the hell are you doing out there? Will you just mow the goddamn lawn already...That boy, Louise, I swear...."
I had a lot of time to think about the amazing adventure my life would become just as soon as I got out of Carlisle.
I'm home again for a short break from the road. My mom still lives on those acres as she has for more than 50 years, keeping old age and infirmity at bay with a steady diet of fresh air and gardening. I help out with the lawn while I'm here though.
Walking back and forth in the cool spring evening, I marvel at the verdant beauty of these Pennsylvania woodlands. There is a brief window between the brittle mid-Atlantic winter and long months of humid summer torpor. A week of blue skies, gentle sunshine and the vision of the genteel life of a gentleman farmer.
There's as much chance of that happening as I had with Miss Bixler.
But I walk back and forth through the soft fields of bluegrass and dandelion. The sun sets, and twilight descends, and I spend a lot of time wondering if I shouldn't come up with a higher class of dreams.