I’m going to a Saint Paul Saints game on Friday with two friends. Perhaps you’ve heard of this team. They are not major league, but they are whatever league it is that’s just under major. Our Minnesota Twins will occasionally pull a player from the Saints to join the Twins, or send one of their fading or misbehaving players to the Saints. I guess that makes the Saints a "farm team." Anyway, they play excellent baseball. I don’t go to Twins games, for several reasons. One is, they play indoors on artificial grass in a ballpark so huge you need binoculars to see anyone’s face. It reduces the event to a video game, distant and too perfect. The Saints play in a much smaller ballpark, outdoors, so we all get dusty and sometimes rained on and you can see the clenched faces and massive hands, and hear the grunts of effort when a ball is hit or thrown. The players are good; every game there is at least one play that brings the crowd to its feet.
And then there are the comic elements. The ball boy is a pig. No, not dirty – in fact, she is as pink and clean as it’s possible for a pig to get. She starts the season as a piglet, tempted to trot out to the pitcher’s mound by a man showing her a bottle. She is dressed in costume, a UPS shirt one inning, a tutu the next. Pigs grow fast; as the season draws to an end, the animal outweighs any of the players.
There are weird contests between innings, kids carrying liquids in tablespoons or rolling automobile tires in a race down and back along the third base line; adults dressing one another in gender-inappropriate, size extra-extra-extra-large clothing in a minute or less. Around the sixth inning there’s an Asian man who sings an old pop or disco song in a key of his own invention. There are weird prizes: if a named Saint slides into second base during the game, every person attending gets a coupon for a White Castle hamburger (which are popularly called "sliders"). A man in a parachute harness is hung on the right field wall; if a ball comes his way and he catches it, he wins ten thousand dollars. (Think about it. Right field fence, man unable to move left or right. I think that is the safest ten thousand dollars in the state.)
Then on Saturday I’m going to an ice cream social. We have these two great friends who make ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, and ices. Once each summer they fire up their great big grill and invite a great crowd of friends to come and grill their own meat, picnic on the lawn, and sample fabulous frozen desserts.
Which reminds me: Thursday I’m going down to Owatonna, about an hour south of the Cities, to visit Bob Larson on his cattle ranch and buy six or eight weeks’ worth of Scottish Highland meat. The cattle are those little creatures with long light-colored fur, bangs over their eyes, and horns a yard wide from tip to tip. They look like something out of a cave painting, and indeed they are a very ancient breed. Bob lets them run wild and chemical-free winter and summer. Now and again he’ll go round up two or three, fatten them for a week or so on corn, then send them to be butchered. It’s kind of strange to stand at a fence and look at them, beautiful and strange in the pasture, then go to the big old freezers in Bob’s garage and buy hamburger, steaks, roasts, and hot dogs made from their aunts, uncles and cousins. But I like that a whole lot better than the other choices.
Did I mention I’m not getting a whole lot of writing done this week?
I am just starting to set up a little book tour for Thai Die when it comes out in December. So far just two places locally and then The Mystery Bookstore in Omaha. Love that shop – and Kate takes her visiting authors out to dinner to a Bohemian restaurant just up the street. She has a "Stitch and Bitch" group that meets in the shop, and they’ll be in session the day I get there, December 13. Always fun, I’ll have to remember to bring a project along. If anyone has a suggestion for a place to stop along the way, or not too far out of it, let me know. And pray for good weather!