Baseball at Dusk – Farewell Val d’Isere

Between heaven and earth,
between darkness and light,
between magic and reality,
lies only my heart…

As I walked home from work this week, I saw a boy playing with the water of a well. I stopped and stared. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, I was more sad than I remember being in years. I just stood and watched. I let the feeling grow, take over and tears appeared in each of my eyes.

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The boy had a piece of wood attached to a string which in turn he was dragging round and round. The wood floated, and together with the white string, formed a sort of primitive vessel. It was one of those old fashioned stone wells, the likes of which scatter Alpine vilages in France, spewing forth delightfully cold, delicious water. He was one of those boys you might see in illustrated story books of the seventies. Brown, neat hair, faceless – I could only see him from the back – blue shorts and a white t-shirt.

He could, when standing on tip-toes, only just reach over the edge and touch the waters surface, permitting him this game. It was close to seven, the sun was just setting in Val d’Isere and, as it does every evening, cast it’s last rays from behind Roche de Bellevarde up along ‘the highstreet’, long golden fingers slowly losing their grip on the day. It was my favourite time of the spring days in Val.

Behind the boy, apres ski was rounding up, live music at Coins des Ami; ‘Chez Bob’ as G and I called it, for no real reason. I assumed, as I watched him, that his parents must be somewhere there amongst the crowd of bright jackets and salopettes, buzzing along to the music. Next to the well, people were beginning to gather, awaiting the free shuttle bus direction Fornet. Predicted departure; 2 mins. Colour; Red.

And no one seemed to notice this little chap.

I remember once reading something about the inspiration behind one of the songs – I forget which one – written by Michael Stipe, or maybe even Peter Buck, of REM. Whichever of the two, returned home one evening just as dusk was settling. In the park in front of him, he said, some children were playing baseball. As he stood the dimming light and watched them, the tears started streaming down his face. He said he didn’t know why.

This was my baseball at dusk moment. In the simplicity of that boy and that toy, in this crazy place, surrounded by music, beer and sexed apres-ers, something touched me. I couldn’t move. There were plenty of kids in Val, it was Easter Week and before that had been school holidays also. But you don’t see kids playing in wells, with pieces of wood. You see kids on skis, with ipads, with iphones, with all kinds of gadgets I will never fully understand. The night before at Coco Rico’s I had glanced out onto the grass – usually snow – bank opposite the stage and seen it dotted with kids huddled up in the ski wear, the faces illuminated by technology as their parents drank and danced to Summer of 69.

This was my baseball at dusk moment and like one of those chaps from REM, I knew I had to write it…

For this was unlike the kids on the grassy bank. Maybe this boy was not even really there. No one paid him any attention. But I saw him and I see him still. At the time I didn’t think anything other than he was real, but the effect he had on me and the clarity with which I can recall him now, made me wonder… Maybe only I could see him.

There are two children in my life I will always wish I could have met. I believe in magic. Not out of a hat magic, but the magic of more to life than meats the eye. Maybe this was magic. I like to think so. Why else would I have been so deeply touched. What, if not magic was making that happen. As I eventually left the boy (I made myself go, before he turned around) and walked up the hill towards home, I was thinking that just maybe, this little chap, playing exactly the sort of game I would have enjoyed to teach him, was somehow one of these two. If so, even from behind, he looked happy…

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Written on my last day in Val d’Isere – April 2017. Having spent two months here helping on a ski season, I’d like to dedicate this true story to ‘the kids’ as I called them; Josh, Sam, Grace, Tash, Ross, Amelia and all the others. You have no idea how much you have meant to me and I shall never forget you; your innocence, joy and above all total confidence and optimism in that all which lies ahead will be good. Whatever life throws at you, I hope a part of you will never forget the simple joy of playing baseball at dusk…

I shall miss you all. Thank you.

~ by WordPress.com Support on April 14, 2017.

26 Responses to “Baseball at Dusk – Farewell Val d’Isere”

  1. You always write from your heart. So glad that you share! See you in September, by the way.

    • Hemingway said ‘write hard and fast about what hurts’ – or words to that effect. This has been my mantra. September it is – big hug and thanks for reading.

  2. Thomas, I love your writing! You make the reader feel as if she/he is there with you in the twilight of the Alpine dusk watching that little boy.

    P.S. I’ll be in Italy in late May/early June with my group of ladies. Will you be surprising me in the leather shop in Florence again, by any chance?

    • Dear Sue – it’s always so nice to hear from you. I am in Italy around then I think, but a little further North – Lake Como area… are you just in Tuscany? Would be so nice to see you… much love

      • Hi, Thomas, so good to hear from you! Yes, sadly, it looks like we may miss each other this summer. I’m doing the Panorama Italiano tour with my group.

        We arrive in Venice May 30 for two nights. (I still remember the drink in the bar at the Hotel Danielli you treated me to. Fabulous!) Then off to Florence 6/1 -6/3. On to Sorrento 6/3 – 6/5 then finishing in Rome 6/5-6/7, departing on the 7th from Rome.

        Any chance you might be in Rome near the end of our tour? I know my ladies would love to see you, and it would be great to catch up. I know a great place for the best gnocchi primavera…… Let me know. It would be wonderful to see you and hear about your travels and upcoming pilgrimage.

        Safe travels this summer, my friend!

        Sue

  3. Lovely. Can’t wait to read about your walk this summer!!!

    • Hi Erin – Thanks hon. Are you coming to Europe again any time soon? I am so excited about my walk – I wish I could set off today, but not long now… big hug and thanks as always for reading and commenting.

      • I’ll be there for a month this summer. We’re headed in opposite directions, though 🙁

      • No really? Where do you go? Meet in the middle? 😉

  4. Thomas. That piece needs a drawing! So evocative and simple. Are you doing any more trips soon. Think of you often. Susan

    • Oh yes, a drawing would be perfect!!! In fact I couldn’t find any really good images. I don’t have your talent 😉 About to start a trip in Spain… I send you all my love and hugs. Hope to see you again… thank you for reading.

  5. Ohhh how I’ve missed your writing! The best heart warming stories that transfer you to the very time and place. Thanks for the escape! Best, Erikka

    • Dear dear Erikka – how are you? Have you carried on travelling – surely you must have been ‘bitten’ by the bug. You need to escape for yourself back over here and when you do, please let me know. Paris re-union? 😉

  6. Lovely piece. Thanks for sharing your life and light.

    • Hi Linda, thank you for reading. The fact that people do and your kind comments, means I keep doing it, I really couldn’t without your support. Thanks so much

  7. The gentle warmth of this piece wraps itself round my heart ,takes me there to stand with you ,watching—A presto ,spero—-?Bacione.x

    • Ah my lovely lovely White Witch 😉 If anyone has taught me to believe in magic it is you. Your spells accompany me on my travels and I often look up, expecting to see you flying above me in happy moments. I miss you. Spero anchio – tanti baci x x x

  8. Beautiful! Love the word images you paint.

    Dale Sandoval and I are off to Iceland with a group this summer. I’m extending the trip for a week in Ireland by myself. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

    I hope our paths cross again. I have such terrific memories of our past trips.

    Warmly,
    Renae Rebechini

    • Dear Renae – I had no idea you guys were still doing tours. How I love to be on one of those again. Such fun. I sadly have only been to Ireland once, many years ago – I remember loving the Arran islands but that’s about all I recall… It would be amazing to meet – come to Spain 😉 Thanks for reading and big hug to Dale also…

  9. Hej Thomas Tak for fortællingen og indblik. Her nyder vi også påsken med skiløb. Hyg dig og glæder mig til næste skriv fra dig.

    • Det lydder hyggeligt. Langren gaar jeg ud fra? Sikke et eventyr i er paa… knus fra Spanien

  10. Great to see you writing again; always interesting. Love HAR

  11. Hey, Thomas. Happy Easter! Thanks so much for the beautiful piece, which has such a magical quality to it. Whether that little one was “real” or not, you brought him to life and allowed him to touch both you and us. You are still young, and you may yet have children in your life. Although I never had my own, I’ve got four beautiful nieces who have brought much joy. And now we are starting on the next round. One great-niece will be two this week, and two new babies coming soon, one in May and one in July! You never know how things will turn out. Keep writing and dreaming, my friend. I also can’t wait to hear pilgrimage stories!

  12. Lovely to read your writing again. Lots of love MOR

  13. Think you should write a book Thomas. I don’t know what about but, you certainly have a gift for it.

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