I was driving down Lake Avenue yesterday morning when I noticed a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old, who – in my opinion – had just intentionally chucked an old basketball down the hill from about Fifth Street.
For a brief moment, the ball and I were traveling side-by-side (the ball, unfortunately, going against traffic in the uphill lane). When I stopped at the four-way stop at Fourth Street, the ball, of course, kept on going. I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw the kid jumping up and down – again, I think in joy at watching the thing sail downhill, and not in protest of an unfortunate lesson in physics and topography.
Meanwhile, the ball kept on going, gaining speed, caroming off the curb now and then. I think it might have briefly gone up on the sidewalk around Second Street, near the Minnesota Teen Challenge building. It caused some uphill vehicle traffic to get a bit squirrely around First Street, and then I lost sight of it momentarily because of the slope of the hill.
Then it appeared again down at the corner of Lake and Superior, still rolling. It made it perhaps 50 feet up the incline toward the I-35 overpass, then rolled back down and settled in the gutter near the Electric Fetus. By that time I was turning left on to Superior Street, and I impulsively stopped the car and scooped up the well-worn, well-traveled basketball (seen in the photo with this post).
A few things that popped into my mind afterward:
- I’m assuming that losing basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs and other spherical objects is just part of life on the Hillside. I wonder if Grant and Nettleton schools get a few extra bucks in their playground equipment budget to account for it. Probably not, but they ought to.
- The whole incident – if the kid did in fact toss the ball downhill on purpose – kind of reminds me of a modern-day Paddle-to-the-Sea, one of my favorite kids’ books, by the awesomely named Holling C. Holling.
Now, this kid did not carve a special message into the ball, but the sentiment – setting something free, just to see where it might go – is the same. I kind of feel bad for interrupting its journey, but then again maybe I am part of the journey – and, as in the book, I have some role to play in sending it on. Which leads me to…
- What should I do with a worn, grimy but still-holding-air basketball? I have no idea where that kid lives, and putting it in a corner of my garage seems like an ignoble end.
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