While living on the farm in Stoughton, Steve and I were the only two young kids around for miles. There really wasn’t anyone our age to play with. There was no such thing as play dates with neighbor kids or going to the mall to spend time with friends. My brother and I had to make up our own fun and, usually, it was together. We would play with our rolling red wagon or ride our bikes around the farm together. Sometimes, we would take turns on the swing that grandpa made out of an old truck tire. Sometimes, we would play cars and trucks underneath the tree, dragging the toys through the dirt. We did enjoy when our older friends from across the road would take a break from their daily chores on the farm and come over and play cowboys and Indians with us. Picking up long sticks to use as rifles, we would all run around the yard shooting at one another, trying to capture one another for hostages. But, there were also times when Steve and I would go our separate ways and make our own fun by ourselves. I would go off to play with my dollhouse and paper dolls or lay in the grass watching the clouds and trying to make them look like things. For many summers, as I lay starring up at the sky, I always thought that airplanes made the clouds in the sky. As I would watch an airplane fly by, I would comment, “There goes the cloud maker!” I called the planes cloud makers because I would see trails of clouds behind the airplane engines. Years later, I learned that that they were called condensation trails that were made by the airplane and not actually real clouds at all. To this day though, I look up toward the sky and see where a cloud maker had just flown by and I can’t help but to smile softly knowing that they will always be cloud makers to me.
As Steve ventured off making his own fun, he would dig up a game of baseball. Steve loved baseball. Sometimes, I felt he ate slept and breathed baseball. When we were home in Chicago, Steve was always starting up a game of softball or fast pitch in the schoolyard with friends. Having no friends to strike up a game on the farm, nor having a baseball or bat to play with, Steve had to come up with his own inventiveness. Steve would summon his shadow friend to come out and join him in another game of ball. Standing together in the gravel driveway, Steve would concentrate on his shadow that lay before him, watching, studying it without end. My brother’s shadow friend soared above him, tall and lean, silhouetting across the ground. Steve would pretend to be on the pitcher’s mound, steadily winding up the next pitch, gliding it across home plate for the third time, making an easy out. Continuously watching second base, Steve throws an unpredicted pitch, hoping to capture another easy out. Steve continued to watch his form, his movements while challenging his shadow friend with each precise play. Batter up! Steve would shout, taking his stance in the batter’s box, which was nothing more than an old roofing shingle left over from one of grandpa’s jobs. Winding up, Steve took several practice swings, making sure his shadow friend was still in play. Deciding where his home run will land, Steve points to center field with his imaginary bat. Swinging wildly at the pitch that was placed before him, Steve hits his target, where it flew high into the blue sky, landing in the cornfields just as he predicted. Victory was his once again. As the sun settled for another day’s rest, Steve said good night to his shadow friend, promising that as long as it’s a bright sunny day, and his shadow friend was willing to come out and play, Steve would be back tomorrow to play another game.
Friend of a Shadow
My friend of a shadow, do not leave me now,
As my brother would think as the sun passes through a cloud.
Our game is not over, we need another strike,
As he said to his shadow friend which he truly did like.
Okay said the other, I am coming back to win,
There was always defeat between my brother and his shadow friend.
Jackie (Lambert) Morin