What do you see?

What do you see when you look at this picture? Look closely on the roof.

I pass this house on my daily commute and it makes me happy.

When I pass it I hear the pat of a ball bouncing once, twice, three times and pray it will clear the gutter and come back to me. 

I hear the thwump, thwump, thwump as a tennis ball pounds against brick and I wear a path in the grass beside the driveway in a hard-fought battle to lob it back. 

I smell the fresh cut of grass mixed with sweat and the unique scent of my favorite Reds cap – an odor no amount of washing can remove.

I see this and wonder if the Frisbee has been there for weeks or months. I wonder if a father was annoyed when he saw it or if he laughed and reminisced of his own father climbing a ladder to pull down balls and frisbees from the roof.

I remember the gasline that ran through the neighborhood of my youth and left a perfect baseball field that transitioned to football when the mood struck. 

I recall the glory of the day I won 57 games and set the known record for Wiffle Ball wins in a single day. To my knowledge, that record still stands. 

And that one warm Saturday, when a couple of dads joined our baseball game and then a few of us went and rounded up more. Soon we had a full-on father/son pickup game that only ended when Johnny’s dad took a line drive in the groin and had to go to the hospital. That became a warning to us all – glove down!

I’m suddenly riding my bike and not driving. We couldn’t afford the premium brands: Mongoose or Redline so I got a silver bike and bought Tommy’s old Mongoose pads and it looked cool… cool enough. My bike route has boundaries – Taylorsville Road on one side and the industrial park on the other. I usually don’t go outside of them… usually. 

Up with the sun, I’m sitting on Jeff’s porch waiting for him to arise. I know not to knock, his older brother taught me that the hard way. I just wait. He’s got a clover patch beside his house and I swear I’m going to find one with four leaves – not just the three-leafer that I split into four that time. Everyone knew. When he comes out with rooster-tailed hair, we play and play, swap baseball cards, eat lunch at my house, and play some more until the streetlights come on. That’s the sign to go home. 

Summers that never lasted long enough. Neither did those innocence days. Good days… great memories. 

And traffic moves again. It’s like the sadness of hearing the ball settle in the gutter – game over.


I saw this Frisbee every day for weeks and each time I smiled as I felt nostalgically lost in reveries of bygone summer days.

And suddenly, for just a moment, even Atlanta traffic didn’t seem so bad.   

12 thoughts on “What do you see?

  1. Signs of an active family.
    I had one of my childhood toys stuck up in the street lamp for years, the whole neighborhood used to wait for it to drop. Then one day, in my teens, a friend came happily banging on my door!!! Thanks, I haven’t thought about that in many moons!! 🙂

  2. The best essays are about simple things that are really not simple at all. Think of all the conversations tied to that Frisbee.

    “Yeah, so if you ‘borrowed’ my frisbee, where is it?”
    “No, I am not going up on that roof….AGAIN.”
    “What made you think the dog could jump that high?”

  3. As usual, I am in awe of your brilliance, Mark.
    You’re one of those writers whose talent I wish I could channel.
    Thank you for this, my friend.

  4. A whiffle ball took out his happy place? Must have been made with some awesome material or the batter was (Ted) “the Klu” (only Reds fans will know who I mean)!

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