"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Posts tagged ‘Van Cortlandt Park’

Memorial Day

American Flag

American flag, proudly waving.

I got married on Memorial Day. A Monday holiday’s convenience for time off and travel made that the most feasible choice. No barbecue,  but lots of sunshine… and humidity. The food was good, the guests had a good time, and we did what we set out to do. Now we are guaranteed a day off to celebrate the day every year, too!

Memorial Day has devolved into a day of national leisure and big $ale$. I sense we’re less concerned about remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces than we are interested in satisfying our own indolence. The grand parades of earlier times are figuratively replaced by red, white, and blue bunting on some stores. How many of us make the effort to go to the big parade in town?


Getting ready to fire up the grill! “Grilling” by Adam Henning, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Rather than sounding like a crotchety old granny, I’m happily remembering Memorial Day last year. We spent the afternoon at Van Cortlandt Park. It was packed! So many families came to enjoy the day together. Grills, bags of charcoal briquettes, picnic baskets, coolers, blankets, chairs, games, balls, and radios magically appeared. How was all of this stuff transported? Did people actually drive there? If so, where did they park (parking being my perennial concern)?

I have a humorous vision of people pouring out of the A-train burdened with all these chattels. Plus babies, toddlers, strollers, and diaper bags. Also sports equipment like bats, soccer balls, badminton nets, and whatnot. Picture that flood erupting and spilling down the steps at 242nd Street!

A beautiful orchid to grace our home with its lovely blossoms in honor of Shavuos.

A beautiful orchid to grace our home with its lovely blossoms in honor of Shavuos.

This year Memorial Day is coincident with the two-day Jewish holiday of Shavuos, or Pentecost, which starts after the Sabbath on Saturday night. It is when we celebrate the bringing of the law down from Mount Sinai. We traditionally eat dairy meals, as opposed to the meat meals of typical holidays. Imagine a holiday where people wax poetic about cheesecake! Not only that, but  we have flowers and plants in our homes because tradition says that Sinai bloomed with beautiful flowers and greenery while waiting for God to give the Torah to Moses on the mountain. I bought a gorgeous orchid for the occasion to enjoy for some time to come.

Whether shopping, picnicking, grilling, or just being lazy, I hope all have a wonderful Memorial Day! That’s one of the freedoms our soldiers fought for. So if you grill this weekend, enjoy a hamburger for me. I’ll be having quiche and cheesecake!

YU Baseball Sunday

On the Field

On the Field

I was at the beautiful Van Cortlandt Park in Riverdale (the Bronx) yesterday watching the Yeshiva University Maccabees (Macs) vs. Vaughn College’s team in a double header. Unbelievable. YU won both games! That broke a 67-game losing streak! The guys looked sharp in their white uniforms adorned with blue letters. There were some great hits and pitches, and lots of steals causing the dust to rise from the field. What a day!

Pirates Hat at 191st St Station

Pirates Hat at 191st St Station

The sky couldn’t have been bluer nor the clouds fluffier. Breezy and a bit on the cool side, it was a perfect day for baseball. Some trees in the distance blossomed; a nearby tree shed red florets. I took the 1-train up to its last stop, 242nd Street, and the field was right by the station. I came prepared, proudly wearing my vintage Pittsburgh Pirates cap (with the mean Pirate). With my sons being on the team, I had to show our Pittsburgh pride. I wouldn’t care to be mistaken for a Mets fan after all!

As I sat in the bleachers soaking up the sun (and pretending to be able to see the ball against the sky when someone hit a pop-up), I felt the sun warming my body and heart. A bit of happy deja vu floated up. It’s one more time that I’m sitting in the bleachers for my sons’ baseball game. I’m reminded of all the Little League games I’d attended when the kids were small, but now it’s the big time: college baseball. The kids are bigger, but they’re my still kids, and I’m busting* with pride!

After-Game Wrapup

After-Game Wrap-up

Being not too far from campus, there was a bit of a cheering section, too. I chatted with Coach’s mom, the photographer, and some of the other people on the bleachers. One player’s sister who was visiting from Chicago came and another’s grandmother even came! I had met a few of the guys before and it was nice to be remembered and smiled at.

Nostalgia set in. How many hours had I warmed the bleachers supporting my kids’ teams? How many times had I yelled “way to go” or cheered when our team came home? This seemed not much different, only this time, the players had beards and were taller than previously.

Best of all was hearing how the players spoke to their teammates. Cries of encouragement were voiced to the guys at bat or on the field, and guys were clapped on the shoulder or tapped with affection when they came back to the dugout. Some cute nicknames were bandied about, too. Even the guys who didn’t play supported their teammates loudly and with passion. Brotherhood and camaraderie were evident.

There were some funny moments, too. At some point they called out random Hebrew words to confound the other team’s pitcher. I remember hearing “iparon” (pencil) and “todah rabbah” (thanks a lot) thrown out and cracking up over the absurdity! It was weirder than if the other team had babbled Spanish. One could expect Spanish in New York. But Hebrew?

I took plenty of pictures. I called my Mom to tell her about the game. I followed the players accessing the team roster via smartphone. I even got my sons to pose with me at the end of the day, as the team was breaking down the practice nets and putting away equipment. I didn’t get in the way and wasn’t embarrassing to them. I suppose teen angst has passed and appreciation has set in. They are men in uniforms, now.

Only one thing was missing that would have made the day perfect: I didn’t bring a knitting project!

Team Going Home seen from Train Platform

Team going home seen from 1-train platform


* Yeah, I know it should be “bursting,” but I felt like a balloon swelling with happiness and thought I’d bust out in song!

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