The Same Spring

Springtime now and that magic scent is in the air, that rising perfume of softening earth and newcoming life that still tells me, even 60 years later – even in Japan – that it’s time for me and my buddies to drag out and polish all our marbles – handfuls of cat’s eyes and immies and puries and alleys and steelies (the most majestic and intimidating steelies came from kids whose dads worked on the railroad), and what a sight it was to behold, when the treasure of last year’s marbles came cascading from can or bag into your hand!

In that moment Spring returned, the marbles bringing again to their possessors the mystic heft and power alive in that rainbow gleam; with that mysteriously delicious clacking together in bag or hand, a kid’s marbles foretold whole seasons of potency yet unfathomed, they augured fun and victory and marble-trading and all the other stuff that goes to filling life in new Spring hearts…

Then one day on the way home from school, right beside the sidewalk or anywhere else there was a reasonably flat piece of bare earth, with one heel you’d dig a just-right-sized hole in the new Springsoft ground for Holies, get down in the dirt and begin to play according to ancient but arcanely flexible rules that everyone seemed to know and agree on yet had never learned, and whole seasons of afternoons would slip magically away…

That same playtime perfume also tells me as it always has that it’s time to dust off the yo-yo (mine was silver with a gold stripe) and practice sleeping and the cradle and walk-the-dog and loop-the-loop and all the other yo-yo moves on the way to yo-yo pro-dom before the Philippino yo-yo stars came to the yo-yo store to stand for an afternoon and show us how it’s really done, then demonstrate in kid-jaw-dropping fashion all the new tricks there are in the vast yo-yo book, completely absorbing the kidcrowd in their yo-yoing virtuosity; then at the end of the show, for a small fee they’d carve something special into the sides of your yo-yo (while carefully maintaining its balance), like a far-away island where a palm tree with coconuts on it waved in the tropical breeze, and how that yo-yo would do magic for the next few weeks, though never as good as the guys in front of the yo-yo store on that one afternoon each Spring…

And now from the vantage of age I look at the same Spring sky as then, and say: Thanks for all the marbles and yo-yos…

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3 Responses to The Same Spring

  1. Mick Brady says:

    Amazing. My inner child hasn’t forgotten the heft and feel of one of those great big steel ball bearings, and it ain’t much of a stretch to catch the dust kickin’ up behind The Lone Ranger, as he galloped across the dirt in the form of a sleeping yo-yo.

  2. Ted says:

    My best friends father owned a junk yard and hands down he had the very best steelies around. Usually they broke all of the glass marbles in the pots. We developed all sorts of rules to stop him and level the playing field.

    The yo-yo part of this is really hitting home right now. My grandson is 9 and in his eyes he is the greatest around. I still know a few tricks and when he started I could show him. We go to weekly Yo-Yo classes with the same type people you described. He has moved so far ahead of my best tricks I can’t believe it. The Yo-Yo’s are the same except they now sleep forever on teflon bearings. Life marches on, huh?

  3. Robert Brady says:

    Teflon bearings? My pure wooden yo-yo is turning over in its grave…

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