Wide open spaces, fantastic storm clouds, and air that has cooled enough to be comfortably inhaled. That's what makes the evenings here so nice.
Friday night we spent another one of those evenings at the softball field. The season is winding down and parents are just as stupid as ever. After the game, Jackson and I, my brother Jonboy, and Li'l Drew, who is one of the league officials, gathered around the back of my truck, cussing and discussing.
My niece, Luna Lovegood, accompanied her father to the field. As we talked, she ran from side to side and end to end of the pickup, trying to find a spot where she would be tall enough to lean and gab across the bed of the truck like the rest of us.
She finally ended up on my side, doing a respectable James Dean lean, but the top of her head didn't clear the side of the pickup. I wasn't really contributing anything of value to the conversation, so I watched her instead.
"Don't worry about it," I finally told her. "You'll be tall enough to talk across the back of the truck before long."
Her arms were folded over her chest and she looked up at me from beneath the brim of her softball visor. "I know," she said matter-of-factly, adopting a passable farmer squint as she gazed at the horizon and into the dying sun.
We leaned against the fender in companionable silence for a while.
When she spoke again, she put one hand on her hip and braced herself against the side of the truck with the other. I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if she had spit a stream of tobacco juice with perfect precision onto the careless weed growing through the crack in the pavement next to my foot.
"I used to weigh just fifty pounds," she told me.
I nodded. We were silent for a moment as we considered this. I kicked a pebble. The sun set a little lower.
"So what do you weigh now?" I asked.
She gave me that same serious, old-soul stare. "Fifty-two."
I bit the inside of my cheek and turned my head to contemplate the empty bed of the truck for a moment.
"Well. One of these days, Junior," I drawled.
The sun disappeared.